Blog Post: FAQs for the New Administration
Please note: All of the answers to the questions below are informational only and not formal legal advice. If you have a specific question about your current legal rights and responsibilities, we encourage you to contact us.
Is my same-sex marriage at risk now that Donald Trump has been elected?
It's highly unlikely that your current marriage is at risk. The National Center for Lesbian Rights recently put out a statement explaining two major concepts that keep marriages safe:
It is the public policy of all states and the federal government to protect a marriage that was valid at the time it was entered into, and it is almost impossible to overturn or invalidate an otherwise valid marriage.
- Stare decisis is the legal concept that states that courts must respect their previous rulings and rule in accordance with them. This allows people to follow the law and to be able to act without a fear that it will continuously change back and forth. It is exceedingly rare for the Supreme Court to overturn a previous ruling, and when it does happen, it is usually many years later in response to progressive values that have developed over time.
Should I get married to my partner to protect our family?
This is a complicated question that cannot be answered with a simple yes or no. Marriages come with many legal rights as well as responsibilities. Each couple's personal, legal, romantic, and financial considerations will be different in deciding whether or not to get married. If you would like to think through your options, we recommend you read the book Before I Do, by Elizabeth Schwartz. It is an excellent resource. You are also welcome to contact us.
I'm a non-biological parent, but my name is on my child's birth certificate, so I'm done, right?
No. A birth certificate is like a marriage certificate - before the Supreme Court's ruling in favor of marriage equality, states did not have to recognize each other's marriage certificates and therefore did not have to recognize out-of-state marriages. The same ruling has not been held for birth certificates, so a birth certificate with your name on it might not be recognized in another state or country. However, under the Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution, courts in all states must recognize judgments from other states. Therefore, the only way for you to solidly protect your legal rights as a non-biological parent is to get a judgment of parentage in the form of a parentage order or an adoption. This may even apply to mothers who have engaged in co-maternity, in which one mother gave birth to a child by carrying the other mother's egg. To discuss the best option for you, please contact us.
I'm transgender. What should I do to protect my rights in the face of the current political climate?
If you would like to be legally recognized as the opposite sex of your sex assigned at birth, we recommend that you seek a legal court ordered gender change right away. There is no requirement in California that you have any surgeries to obtain a legal gender change. The Transgender Law Center has an excellent resource guide on updating identity documents in California.
We also recommend that you work on updating your federal identity documents, such as your social security information and your passport. The National Center for Transgender Equality has excellent resources with more information about changing your gender with the Social Security Administration and on your passport. If you need help with this process, please contact us.