LGBT Marriage

Our firm has had special expertise with same sex couples because the same proof that is required for heterosexual marriages, is applicable for homosexual marriages.

The Immigration Service asks for proof that the couple is living together in a common domicile, that they share joint bank accounts, maintain joint health care policies, that they rent an apartment or house jointly, share bills for electricity, fuel and other household expenses together. Photos are helpful especially showing pictures of the immigrant spouse or fiancé(e) with the U.S. petitioner's family and vice versa; also joint trips on vacation, photos of the two at home or with friends, basically showing the normal activities of a customary marriage. An immigration interview is usually arranged to verify that the couple is acquainted with what a couple would normally know about each other such as how the couple met, knowledge about each other's family and each other's work.

In the case of an engagement the Immigration Service would not be satisfied by a relationship if the couple has only met on the internet. If the couple personally met abroad the U.S. petitioner's passport should indicate entries into the country of the immigrant, meetings with the immigrant's family, staying abroad at hotels or inns together such as showing invoices, photographs of trips together etc. These rules are the same as would be asked of heterosexual couples.

The federal law is trying to catch up with the need to accord equal rights to same sex couples. We have a lot of experience with these issues. For example in a same sex marriage if the US citizen were to die, if the marriage had been performed in a State where such marriages are legal, the surviving spouse even without a Will would be entitled to his/her marital benefits even if the survivor is living in a State that does not grant same sex marriages. This State would have to respect the marital benefits to the survivor because of the full faith and credit requirement of the Constitution: each State must respect the laws of other States. If a same sex marriage occurred in a State like Massachusetts where the marriage was legal, a State like Nebraska where it is not yet legal would still have to recognize the legality of the marriage because of the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution.

Oltarsh & Associates has over 40 years of experience in issues of conflicts of law and also in providing same sex couples the same rights accorded to heterosexual couples.