Can you help us tie the rainbow knot?
July 29, 2006 7:24 PM   Subscribe

Gayfilter: Where can/should my girlfriend and I get married?

My girlfriend and I are talking about getting married. Unfortunately living in the oh-so-gay-friendly state of Arkansas we're going to have to travel somewhere to have it done. Any MeFiers have any personal experiences of where would be easiest to go? We're not even totally sure of our options because research turns up conflicting info. Massachusetts, Vermont, or Canada, is that it? What about San Fran or San Diego, can you get married there? Thanks for the help.
posted by CwgrlUp to Human Relations (16 answers total)
You can't get a marriage license in Massachusetts unless you plan to live there immediately thereafter, as far as I know (this isn't peculiar to same-sex marriages, either), but I'm not an attorney. Also keep in mind that Arkansas and the federal government don't have to recognize your marriage even if you have a license from Massachusetts or Canada.
posted by oaf at 7:41 PM on July 29, 2006 [1 favorite]

I can say that if you came to a gay friendly city like Toronto, you would be treated pretty much like any other couple. People would be happy for you, and you wouldn't feel like out of place. Our city hall is particularly nice for marriage.

I don't know about the other places you mention. It would be great to make a statement in the U.S. , but if you just want to enjoy the ceremony, Canada is the place.

BTW, best wishes for a long and healthy relationship.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 7:46 PM on July 29, 2006

First... congratulations!

I can understand why it's so difficult to work out what's going on. Not only do all the States have different positions, but the situation seems to change all the time.

The Wikipedia entry on Same-sex marriage summarises the current global situation thus:
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, opposing efforts to legalize or ban same-sex civil marriage made it a topic of debate all over the world. At present, same-sex marriages are recognized in the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, and the U.S. state of Massachusetts for same-sex marriages performed within that state under its laws.

On December 1, 2005, South Africa’s Constitutional Court extended marriage to include same-sex couples. The court mandated that changes go into effect by the end of 2006.
The article on "Same-sex marriage in the United States" has a section on Same-sex marriage state by state, which might also be useful to you.

Have you tried contacting a representative organisation and asking them for advice on your situation?
posted by robcorr at 7:47 PM on July 29, 2006

oaf is right. From GLAD's web site:
Massachusetts does not have a residency requirement for marriage, BUT one old, local law – dating from 1913 – says that non-residents may not marry in Massachusetts if their marriage would be expressly prohibited if contracted in their home state.21 Massachusetts Governor Romney has revived this old law and is using it as a basis for instructing clerks to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples from ALL other states.
You can read more about it here. If you have your heart set on Massachusetts after doing research, drop me a line. My friend is a gay wedding planner in MA and knows all of the details of this old law.
posted by jdl at 7:59 PM on July 29, 2006

Here's a summary of the situation from HRC.

I believe that your only options for a "legal" marriage (unless you're planning on relocating) are outside of the U.S., as another poster pointed out. Not that it would be recognized in the U.S. unfortunately.

It IS nice, though, to visit Massachusetts and suddenly remember that all those lesbians walking around with wedding rings on really are married in the legal sense of the word. Ain't no big thing for the most part -- at least in the Northampton & Amherst areas.

Oh...and be sure to do the whole power of attorney and living will thing, regardless of if and when you get married.
posted by bim at 8:07 PM on July 29, 2006

Good links y'all. Looks like Mass is def out cuz this Southern gal doesn't do cold. Still confused on California tho. You can register as domestic partners but still not clear on marriage...Possibly ok in SF??
posted by CwgrlUp at 8:35 PM on July 29, 2006

Nope, no more gay marriage in SF. The issue's kicking around the state legislature, and there's a possibility it may become legal, but it's not currently happening.
posted by occhiblu at 8:39 PM on July 29, 2006

Toronto would be perfectly happy to marry you. Whether you can get the marriage recognized in Arkansas is a different matter (the answer: emigrate).
posted by jellicle at 5:04 AM on July 30, 2006

Good links y'all. Looks like Mass is def out cuz this Southern gal doesn't do cold. Still confused on California tho. You can register as domestic partners but still not clear on marriage...Possibly ok in SF??

Did you read the previous replies? You can't get legally married in the US unless you plan to move to Massachusetts. You can find someone to say that you're married in california, sure, but it's the same as doing that in Arkansas.

Why don't you just do that, because it's clearly what you want to do. To the point that you won't see when people tell you that you CAN'T do it to any degree of official. If legal recognition was really a strong issue for you, you wouldn't be saying "Frosts? Jackets in October? Screw that!"
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:38 AM on July 30, 2006

Did you read the previous replies? You can't get legally married in the US unless you plan to move to Massachusetts.

I guess I was under the assumption that the reason Mass. is out is because she doesn't want to move there, hence the "Southern Gal doesn't do cold".

I have no doubt that legal recognition is a strong issue for the OP... I'd have to agree with the OP that living in a climate that makes you miserable would nearly always be more important than having legal recognition... While I find the weather in Mass reasonable, people born & raised in the south could find it horrible.

I have a feeling that more states will be allowing Gay Marriages as the next Pres Elections get closer. It's gaining a lot of talk-time, and could become a major point, especially if the politicians choose to make it a Civil Liberties issue. I know that the tension here in Seattle has been building, the Pride Parade here was a HUGE success, and there are numerous protests planned surrounding the Gay Marriage issue.
posted by hatsix at 10:27 AM on July 30, 2006

Mayor Curley, thanks for dropping in and adding noise. Had YOU read the comments yourself you would see that you have to live or plan to live in Mass to get married there. My cold comment was in regards to living in Mass. I'd fly ANYWHERE to marry this girl and I didn't start this thread to defend our rights or reasons to be MARRIED at least somewhere where it is legal THERE even if Arkansas does not recognize it.
posted by CwgrlUp at 10:27 AM on July 30, 2006

Here's something else to ponder, cowgirl. The episcopal church in Arkansas will now do "blessing ceremonies." :)
posted by bim at 12:33 PM on July 30, 2006

I vote Vancouver. Toronto's my hometown, but Vancouver's more scenic. Mountains! Ocean! Trees! Beaches!
Other things!
Good luck :)
posted by Radio7 at 1:48 PM on July 30, 2006

Interesting link bim. This was my fave part:

The Rev. Lowell Grisham of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Fayetteville, said no one has requested a blessing yet, but that he expects a ceremony before the Episcopal general convention in 2009.
"My gay friends are very sensitive about the notion that we've been blessing animals for years and find it so difficult to bless their relationships," Grisham said.

All these links are great. I know much more now than I did!
posted by CwgrlUp at 3:12 PM on July 30, 2006

The GLAD web site says that the law governing marriages of non-residents is a "local" law, but the citation on its page is to the Massachusetts General Laws, meaning that it applies statewide. And regardless of its age, it is still in force, and the Governor acts properly in enforcing it.
posted by megatherium at 3:25 PM on July 30, 2006

Advice from Lambda Legal, giving the pros and cons of getting married in Canada vs. Massachusetts.

Info from the ACLU

If you travel elsewhere to get legally married, it will be complicated to get a divorce if you should ever need one. See the links for more info.

As someone noted above, you cannot get legally married in California or New York state at this time. A couple of years ago, there were local leaders (mayors) in a few cities who were "marrying" people, but they were basically acting in civil disobedience of the law of the states and they were forced to stop. Legislation and court cases are ongoing, so things might be quite different in a couple more years; sadly that won't help you guys if you want to do it NOW! Good luck whichever way you decide to go.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:07 PM on July 31, 2006

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