Same-sex couples are asking questions like these with the approach of July 24, the first day they legally can wed in New York. As couples, attorneys and others navigate the new legal landscape, the New York State Bar Association is offering:

•  A brochure of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) released today by the Bar Association and its Committee on LGBT People and the Law. This 8-page brochure can be downloaded at

• A four-and-a-half-hour seminar, entitled "Same Sex Marriage in New York:  What Every Practitioner Needs to Know". This Continuing Legal Education (CLE) course will be held live  in New York City on Friday, September 9, 2011  and available via webcast statewide.  For complete program information and to register online go to

"The  Marriage Equality Act provides same-sex couples in New York with important protections and legal rights," said Association President Vincent E. Doyle III of Buffalo (Connors & Vilardo LLP), noting that the Association has long supported the new law, which takes effect Sunday. "Significantly, many areas of the law are unclear. We hope our FAQ and CLE will help clarify the issues involved."

"The law granting same-sex couples the right to marry is a triumph for equality," said Michele Kahn, who chairs the Bar Association's Committee on LGBT People and the Law.  "We want to provide same-sex couples and attorneys with information about the legal steps necessary to get married and an understanding of the legal rights and obligations arising from a marriage. We also want to make them aware that there are many open issues about how the law will be applied. Among them: how other states and countries will view New York marriages and how federal laws impose roadblocks to full recognition and equal treatment."

Frequently Asked Questions Brochure

The FAQ brochure, developed by a panel of legal experts, addresses a wide range of issues involving the Marriage Equality Act. They include:  residency requirements; waiting periods; who is authorized to perform marriages; name changes; validity of New York same-sex marriages in other states; general rights and obligations that come with marriage; prenuptial agreements; and children, parental rights and non-biological adoptions.

The FAQ recommends that same-sex couples travel with copies of health care proxies, powers of attorney and hospital visitation authorization forms for use in the event of an emergency. It also warns that even these documents may not protect same-sex couples if the laws of a particular jurisdiction do not recognize their validity. (Link:

The State Bar urges any couple considering marriage to consult with a lawyer and a tax expert. 

Continuing Legal Education Seminar

To educate the legal profession about the new law, the State Bar Association is sponsoring a Continuing Legal Education (CLE) program on the legal implications of the Marriage Equality Act.  The presentation will take place on Friday, September 9, 2011, from 9 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. at the Affinia Hotel in Manhattan. It also will be simulcast statewide via webcast. Participants will earn 4.5 Professional Practice MCLE credits.

The program, "Same-Sex Marriage in New York: What Every Practitioner Needs to Know", is sponsored by the Committee on LGBT People and the Law. Co-sponsors include the Family Law, Trusts & Estates Law and Tax sections of the State Bar Association.

Designed for both general practitioners and specialists, the program will examine how same sex-marriages differ from opposite-sex marriages.  The goal is to prepare attorneys to give their clients proper advice and counsel on numerous issues, including estate planning, children, dissolution, divorce, taxes, pre-nuptial agreements, and interstate recognition of New York same-sex marriages.

For complete program information and to register online, please go to

The 77,000-member New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation.  It was founded in 1876.


Contact: Lise Bang-Jensen
Director of Media Services & Public Affairs