Individuals from the LGBT community (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) may have legal needs somewhat different than others. Although laws are changing quickly, many in the LGBT community are not automatically protected under the law, nor are their relationships always recognized–particularly if they are not married. This means that intelligent work-a-rounds may be required.
The good news? The Supreme Court’s 5/4 decision http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/14pdf/14-556_3204.pdf issued June 26, 2015, supports same sex marriage nationwide. It overturned the rather tortured DeBoer v Snyder decision from the 6th Circuit in late 2014 (see: http://www.ca6.uscourts.gov/opinions.pdf/14a0275p-06.pdf ). Gay marriage is now legal, and recognized everywhere in the USA!
Even so, unmarried couples (same sex or opposite sex), should make use of protective planning and protective arrangements. This is sometimes possible using existing property law, contract law, and estate planning and beneficiary and health care designations. Sometimes this can be done via living together agreements, property purchase and sharing agreements or “joint account” arrangements. Every situation calls for its own analysis and plan.
Gay couples who have married should still review all their paperwork and legal arrangements, to see if anything needs updating.
And gay and lesbian and transgender individuals who are single should do all they can to protect themselves. Even with the US Supreme Court decision, there is a long way ahead before full equality is here. This means members of the LGBTQA community are smart to protect themselves, challenge unfair treatment when warranted, and to take advantage of any beneficial laws or regulations or constitutional protections. Some have said individuals in the community are only a tweet away from full second class status–so it is critical to do all you can within existing law, and old law, as well as new law, to protect yourself.
For many same sex couples who are not married, a host of issues also arise–if they marry, do the benefits outweigh the risk? Should they consider pre-nuptial arrangements before marriage just as some straight couples? Will retirement benefits now protect your same sex spouse? We help people explore those issues.
Others might need to challenge denial of medical care, or petition the court for name changes. And sometimes folks need to wrestle with government agencies or big companies, for one reason or another.
Bradley Vauter, J.D., has consulted with, and helped, scores and scores of individuals with these sorts of matters since he became an attorney. He can help you too.
Here is a link to a presentation we gave in June 2016 to some members of PACE at Consumers Energy:
Consumers Energy Presentation
And here is a link to an article I was asked to write for the Michigan Family Law Journal (June/July 2017) regarding one aspect of family law/divorce issues for same sex couples: http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/6b5be22d#/6b5be22d/30
(Many more articles can be found in the June/July 2017 Michigan Family Law & LGBTQA Joint Special Edition.)