Saturday, June 14, 2008

California Gay Marriage Primer

Now that gay marriage is set to become legal in California on June 17, 2008, how will it actually work? The following is a short list of articles and resources to help guide prospective brides and grooms in the state of California:
  • Online LGBTQ magazine EdgeBoston has posted a very brief Q & A on the practical details of gay marriage in California: "Cali Gay Marriage 101". For example, "QUESTION: What’s required [to get married]? ANSWER: All that’s required of straight couples: A valid ID proving you’re both 18 or older. Most counties accept walk-ins, but appointments get speedier service.And the cost? In Sacramento County, for example, it’s $77 for a marriage license; $86 for a ceremony."
  • A June 13, 2008, Los Angeles Times article outlines in greater detail some of the logistic and practical questions facting clerks, advocates, and those seeking to obtain a same-sex marriage in California, including whether same-sex marriages performed in Massachusetts, Canada, or Spain will be automatically recognized by California on June 17, 2008.
  • The California Department of Public Health website has published updated Marriage License Information, including an update which includes updated marriage forms, and an open letter of instruction to all the county clerks and recorders.
  • The website is posting updated information on same-sex marriage in California, including the cost of a license, residency requirements, change-of-name information, as well as a directory listing the addresses and telephone numbers of each of the county clerks in California.
  • has posted an article with more information on applying for a marriage license in the state of California.

To all those who plan to take advantage of marriage equality in California when it becomes legal on June 17, 2008, and the countless others who may choose to do so in the future, congratulations!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Domestic Violence in the Gay Community; Information and Resources

The Gay Mens Domestic Violence Project in Cambridge, Massachusetts, estimates that 1 in 4 gay men will experience some sort of abuse in the context of an intimate relationship with another man. A 2002 study conducted among approximately 2,881 men in the cities of San Fransisco, Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago, reported the following rates of abuse among men in relationships with other men:
  • Psychological/symbolic battering 34%
  • Physical battering 22%
  • Sexual battering 5%
The Massachusetts Abuse Prevention Act (M.G.L. c. 209A, commonly referred to as "209A") defines abuse as the occurrence of one or more of the following acts between family or household members:
  • attempting to cause or causing physical harm;
  • placing another in fear of imminent serious physical harm; or
  • causing another to engage involuntarily in sexual relations by force, threat of force or duress.
Chapter 209A protects victims of abuse regardless of the gender of the victim or perpetrator. According to the GMDVP website, some examples of the types of relationships covered by "209A" include: an ex-lover/partner, a lover/partner living in the same household, a lover/partner living in a different household, a spouse or an ex-spouse, a roommate/housemate, a caregiver living in the same household, a person with whom you had or have a dating-type relationship, for a while.

As the Gay Mens Domestic Violence Project website points out, domestic violence can affect victims in almost every aspect of their life, including Housing, Education, Employment, Immigration, and Child Support/Visitation.

One option for victims of abuse, although not always the most effective, is to obtain a restraining order against their abuser in the Probate and Family Court or District Court. A person may seek a restraining order, regardless of sexual orientation, age, gender, or marital status, to prevent future incidents of abuse. Violation of a restraining order by the abuser is a criminal offense in Massachusetts, and there are no court costs for victims in obtaining one.

Through a restraining order, you can ask a judge to order any or all of the following:
  • that the abuser not abuse you from now on (typically known as “refrain from abuse”)
  • that the abuser leave the apartment or house if you live together (a “vacate order”) regardless of whether the abuser’s name is on the lease or mortgage; (an order requiring the abuser to leave his or her leased apartment or owned home will be temporary)
  • that the abuser surrender weapons (guns), ammunition and/or Firearm ID Card, etc.
  • that the abuser stay a certain distance away from you; that the abuser have no further contact with you, whether directly or through a third party (for example through friends, co-workers, or family members)
  • that you be granted temporary custody; temporary child support; reimbursement for expenses related to the abuse
  • that the abuser return items that they possess which would grant them access to you, including keys, garage door opener, etc.
The GMDVP publishes a two-page Domestic Violence Services Brochure, which can be downloaded here in its entirety, and which contains information on identifying abuse, getting emergency help, safety and legal resources, and support.