The good news was that on July 26, 2013, the United States Supreme Court overturned a section of DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) that refused to recognize the marital status of same-sex couples. The bad news is that even though the federal government now recognizes the marital status of same sex couples, there are still 37 states that do not recognize marriage equality.
As heartening as the revocation of DOMA first seemed the let-down according to gay real estate is that the Supreme Court left it up to the individual states to decide whether or not a gay marriage would be recognized with the definition of the state usurping the definition of the federal ruling.
Also disappointing is the fact that the status of a marriage is defined by location and not the place of celebration. This is important because this means that if a gay couple is married in New York, where their union is legally recognized and they move to somewhere like Alabama, where it is not, then they lose their legal married status and all the benefits and constitutional rights that go with that.
The main impact that this has on legally married couples relocation is that it puts a lot of pressure on the couple to put the matter of where they live before the progress of their careers or a real desire to live in a certain climate or environment.
Heterosexual couples do not have to live like this ~ Politics and the search to be treated equally do not determine the planning of life goals. They do not have to choose to live in the areas that comprise that thirty percent of the state governments in the United States that legally recognize them as couples. Opposite sex couples can live wherever they like in the country without fear of financial penalties or a lack of recognition of their most important relationship.
Obviously the stress of deciding between having constitutional rights and no career path in a state that recognizes gay marriage or having a good job and no rights can cause a lot of stress in any relationship. Those in gay marriages may find themselves making tough choices such as having to lose constitutional rights because they want to live near an ailing relative who lives in a state that does not recognize gay marriage. Another tough choice might have to do with needing to relocate to a state where there is no tax on gifts to a spouse if a spouse happens to be ailing.
DOMA has also affected those who have married in other countries, such as Canada, and then returned to the United States to make a home for them. Sadly many couples have ended up separated from each other because the marriage was not recognized and the spouse was not able to obtain a Green Card. For couples this has happened to in the past it might be a lot easier to get their spouse into the country now provided that they choose to live in a state that recognizes the marriage.
The fact that status and rights depends so much on geography is an anomaly that has created a great deal of confusion and even led to situations where married same-sex couples living in a state without marriage equality can be treated as single. This is expensive emotionally as it takes away from the integrity of the relationship and many LGBT citizens end up suffering financially for many reasons. That is why consulting with a gay realtor and also a tax expert that is familiar with tax law and the DOMA repeal is a good idea before you relocate anywhere in the U.S.
Author Jeff Hammerberg is the Founding CEO of GayRealEstate.com. Free Instant Access to the Nation’s Top Gay, Lesbian and Gay Friendly Realtors Coast to Coast. FREE Buyers Representation ~ Free Relocation Kit to any City, USA ~ Free Sellers Market Analysis for home sellers.