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A Little Advice to Prepare for Marriage Equality in New York

All eyes will still be on New York in the coming weeks as the state prepares for Marriage Equality! I learned a lot in the run-up to wedding mania here in California in 2008.  So I thought I would share some tips with those in New York.

Clergy, officiants and recorders: Meet together with your country registrars who will issue the licenses.  Help form a task force to work out the first days when the big rush will happen.  Help them think through their own bureaucracy and yes-how the forms should and must change.  We did that here in Los Angeles County. Our County Clerk Dean Logan and his team met with us and worked directly with a group of us to help ease the rush of the first weeks!

Clergy and other officients:  Know how you will change or modify the words of the ceremony.  Will you say husband and husband?  Partners for life? Spouses?  Will you keep antiquated vows like, love honor cherish and obey?  Does anyone really still use obey?  I certainly don’t.

Couples who plan to get married: CONSULT AN ATTORNEY AND A TAX PROFESSIONAL.  There are many fiscal implicatiions in getting married.  Sign a pre-nup agreement it doesn’t mean you don’t love each other. In fact just the opposite. It does mean you love one another enough to imagine that if it didn’t work out-you have the basics outlined.

The federal government doesn’t yet recognize our unions and so while you might be married in New York-your federal income tax is as a single. Being in love and getting married doesn’t mean you have to be financially stupid!

Couples Getting Married: Even if you have been together for a long time-consider some pre-marital counseling. That piece of paper and that ring changes things.  Don’t just assume it will all be the same.  It won’t! You will see yourselves differently and others will see you differently.

One of the most interesting phenomena of the marriage ceremony is that it takes two unrelated people and makes them next of kin–literally-like blood family! So poof you are related! It is a different way to think about this marriage bond.  That is why others see you differently. You are a family in a new way even if you have been together for decades!

Couples getting married: Remember if you are having a wedding ceremony-complete with flowers, and cake  and maybe a rented hall and caterer. Your officiant should be given an honorarium as well. Don’t just assume the local pastor will be available.  He or she will have many weddings on their plate.  They may have a fee.  Be prepared. It is not a free service. This is how people make their living, just like the baker, the travel agent who books your honeymoon and the guy in the tuxedo shop who rented you the tuxedos! There is paperwork that has to be completed.  So don’t bristle if your rabbi, cantor, minister or priest has a financial requirement for their services.

Couples: Expect everyone to want to attend!  In my almost 25 year experience of being a rabbi and performing hundreds of weddings for gay people (both legally recognized and not) the gay weddings are better attended than the straight weddings.  Everyone wants to be there! So plan your numbers and your guest list accordingly!!!!

These are just a few.  But there are many others.  In another post I will cover a few more!  Happy Weddings!