Same sex marriages in New York and California are frequently reported in the news, but why not in Pennsylvania? If you checked any social media or celebrity gossip site on Monday, August 27, you would have learned that Rosie O'Donnell married her partner, Michelle Rounds, on June 9th in a very private ceremony. This was shocking for the social media world who wondered: "how was she able to keep this a secret for months?" But from a family law perspective, one may question why every same sex marriage publicized in the media almost always occurs in New York or California.
Although same sex marriage is becoming accepted by more states, Pennsylvania is not yet among them. Pennsylvania does provide many other legal rights for same sex couples, yet it is clear why celebrities like Rosie O'Donnell want their wedding ceremonies conducted in states that formally recognize same sex marriage: because they can be publically recognized as a married couple.
While New York allows same sex couples to marry within the state, California will only recognize a same sex marriage conducted in another state. Other states such as Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont permit same sex couples to legally marry in-state. Pennsylvania, however, is not one of these states.
Same sex couples are not without legal rights in Pennsylvania, however. Our Pittsburgh family law attorneys assist our clients in drafting same sex cohabitation agreements, which establish the rights and responsibilities of a same sex couple living together. Our Pittsburgh family law firm has also assisted same sex couples in PA adopt a child, and can help our same sex clients with child custody issues.
While same sex couples in PA are not left entirely without legal rights, you will not read in magazines or on Twitter that celebrity same sex couples are marrying in PA until same sex marriage is recognized here. But until then, if you are a same sex couple in Pennsylvania, seek one of our family lawyers to help you with the rights you do have.