This year in Minnesota, we’re already turning our attention to the elections this fall. On the ballot will be a question asking if Minnesotans want to add an amendment to our state constitution that forbids same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage is already not legal in Minnesota, so this amendment is redundant and purely a polical move.
Obviously, we LGBT Minnesotans are working to make sure the amendment fails. But until we do achieve legal marriage equality, there are some things that we as parents can do to help assure our family’s security.
First, domestic partnerships are available in Minneapolis and St. Paul. To apply, you need to fill out a simple form and pay a fee. A domestic partnership on record can help illustrate the strength and commitment of your relationship in case of legal challenge. It certainly won’t give you all the rights of legal marriage, but it can support your case. Other cities with domestic partnerships include Edina, Golden Valley, St. Louis Park, Red Wing, Rochester, Crystal, Robbinsdale, Duluth, and Richfield.
Second-parent adoption can be achieved, with the help of lawyers. The process can be lengthy, usually a minimum of a few months, and will require lawyer and legal fees.
Health care directives can be written for each partner in case of illness or injury where the partner is unable to speak for themselves about their medical care. The health care directive will detail the wishes of the ill party and give legal rights to their partner in making decisions about their care. This is especially important for LGBT couples, as we do not automatically have these legal rights. In April of 2010, President Obama signed a law on hospital visitation assuring that partners, including LGBT partners, have legal rights to visit their loved ones in the hospital. A health care directive will support this for you at the hospital, stating that your partner (and your child or children!) are authorized by you to visit you in the hospital and help make decisions in your care.
Wills for each parent should be written, detailing how your assets are to be distributed once you die. This can include your money, property, and choices for the continuing care of your child. Unfortunately, with inheritance law as it stands now, pertaining to us unmarried couples, the surviving partner will have to pay significant taxes on any inherited money or property.
So, until legal marriage is a reality for us, we will need to make an effort and take precautions to protect our families. Fight the amendment!
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