Scriber Law Group, LLC.

Tying the Knot: Romance v. Realities

“Intellectually, of course, we did not believe in marriage. But one does not love someone just intellectually.”

-John Lennon

There is undeniable truth in what John Lennon says, and that’s why so many of us joined in the chant of “Love Wins,” when the Supreme Court finally granted the LGBTQ community its right to marry. Justice Kennedy’s gorgeous conclusion in the Obergefell decision bears repeating:

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

The Business Side

And yet, there is a corollary to Lennon’s (and Kennedy’s) thoughts: Marriage is a high testament to the power of love, but it also is a business and legal relationship. For LGBTQ families who maintain an intellectual opposition to marriage, there may be some practical reasons to reconsider.

One of the things that a legal marriage does is confer automatic rights: The right to file joint tax returns; the right to make medical decisions for each other; the right to put one another on employee benefit plans. One of the most important rights, though, is the right to inherit property.

Coins of the Realm

You and your partner don’t have to get married to look out for one another, obviously. But if you’re not yet married, you’ll have a lot more paperwork to do if you want to leave a coherent estate plan behind.

For instance, you may well be satisfied with the civil union you and your partner got in another state many years ago. But Georgia law never recognized civil unions. Unless the state where you had your ceremony has retroactively changed its civil unions into legal marriages, Georgia officials don’t have to recognize your relationship.

On the flip side, Georgia law usually gives a surviving spouse first dibs on an estate. So while that marriage license may seem a bourgeois affectation to you and your partner, it’s one of the coins of the realm in Georgia courts.

Share this Article

About the Author