By Melissa Myers and Michael J. Tucker
Melissa Myers: After Election Day, my office had many inquiries from LGBTQ people fearful about the validity of their marriages in the upcoming presidential administration.
Michael J. Tucker: Same here, with questions following some common themes: Will my marriage be valid after Jan. 20? Should my partner and I rush to get married before the inauguration?
Myers: The LGBTQ national legal advocacy organizations have since spread the word that in the short term, at least, nobody’s marriage will be legally invalidated.
Tucker: Right. The legal consensus is that legally married couples will continue to be married, and anyone who encounters problems with their marriage being fully respected should contact a LGBTQ legal group immediately.
Myers: For more information if you are experiencing any issues with the recognition of your marriage, call the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) Helpline at 800-528-6257.
Tucker: There’s more. If you are married legally anywhere, you are married here. Folks in Canadian marriages (or from the United Kingdom or anywhere it was legal, for that matter) need not re-marry in the United States. Your marriage is recognized and valid nationwide.
Myers: If you are not married, there’s no rush to get married. While Inauguration Day could signal major difficulties for some LGBTQ Americans, both culturally and legally, it’s not likely to mean the end of the freedom to marry.
Tucker: If you do decide to get married, please be informed about the legal consequences of marriage. Ask your advisers.
Myers: For those wanting to dive deeper into your legal protections, we recommend reading one of national advocacy organization’s websites, such as lambdalegal.org/blog/post-election-faq.
Tucker: Or read one of the books becoming available on this subject, such as my colleague Elizabeth Schwartz’ new book Before I Do: Legal Guide to Marriage, Gay and Otherwise.
Myers: Please familiarize yourself with the legal points these sources raise and don’t rush in to a marriage.
Tucker: Marriage equality probably won’t be overturned. Those who are less optimistic acknowledge, at least, that a U.S. Supreme Court rollback of marriage rights couldn’t happen abruptly. Court cases take time.
Myers: Still, if you are in a binational relationship and one of you is undocumented, you may want to seek counsel from an immigration lawyer to see whether marriage would help adjust your status.
Tucker: That way, if the political campaign threats of mass deportation are carried out, you’re protected.
Myers: Beyond marriage, our community faces plenty of other threats. For parents, it is now more important than ever to obtain confirmatory adoptions by court order, even if you are married.
Tucker: This might be the most important point. The right to marriage equality may be enshrined across the country, but how a marriage impacts parental rights is decidedly not universal.
Myers: An adoption or parentage order from a court, which confirms your parental rights, even if you are both already on the child’s birth certificate, may become critical.
Tucker: Now more than ever, having a will in place and clear advance directives for your health care will be important for everyone.
Myers: These protections continue to be essential for all LGBTQ people.
Tucker: It is incumbent upon all of us to speak in solidarity with LGBTQ people of color, who can feel particularly vulnerable in the wake of a presidential campaign dialogue that targeted African-Americans, Muslims, Latinos and many other communities of color.
Myers: The unapologetically homophobic vice president-elect is leading the new administration’s transition team, creating concerns for many LGBTQ people and those living with HIV and AIDS.
Tucker: Importantly, members of our trans community who might seek to obtain federal documents (such as passports, social security cards, and immigration records) with corrected gender markers should do so now.
Myers: Definitely. The current streamlined policy that President Obama put in place is potentially in jeopardy.
Tucker: Arizona law still doesn’t require employment non-discrimination and other laws protecting against discrimination. Take care to protect yourself and your family.
Myers: Another segment of the LGBTQ community facing increased vulnerability in the near future is our elders.
Tucker: Many protections older LGBTQ adults count on, such as financial security, health care access, affordable and welcoming housing, and culturally competent services, can be compromised by a rollback of the progress achieved at the federal level.
Myers: If you or a loved one are part of this population and need help, support or referrals, the SAGE LGBTQ Elder Hotline is ready to take your calls at 888-234-SAGE.