legal

  • Anti-LGBT Adoption Measure Defeated in the House

    (WB) The U.S. House skirted a proposed measure on Wednesday that would have inhibited adoption rights for LGBT couples, approving major appropriations legislation that omitted the initiative.

  • Attorneys Who Argued Gay Rights Cases Reflect on Kennedy Legacy

    (WB) U.S. Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy is stepping down from the U.S. Supreme Court after writing four milestone cases in favor of gay rights over the course of his 30 years on the bench.

  • Court: Kansas Did Not Violate Transgender Inmate's Rights

    (EDGE) A federal appeals court says Kansas prison officials aren't deliberately indifferent to a transgender inmate who says her medical treatment is so poor it violates her constitutional rights.

  • Employee Fired for Being Trans May Result in Trans Rights Supreme Court Case

    (CNN) In the summer of 2013, Aimee Stephens sent her employer a letter explaining she was about to change her life. She was a transgender woman, and she intended to start dressing as such at work.

  • House Panel OKs 'Religious Freedom' Anti-LGBT Adoption Amendment

    (WB) A House committee approved on Wednesday as part of major appropriations legislation an amendment seen to allow taxpayer-funded adoption agencies to deny placement into LGBT families over religious objections.

  • Idaho Must Pay Attorney Fees In Gay Marriage Case

    BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho must pay more than $400,000 to the team of lawyers who successfully fought to overturn the state's ban on gay marriage, a federal judge ruled.

  • Justices Say Law on Offensive Trademarks is Unconstitutional

    The Supreme Court on Monday struck down part of a law that bans offensive trademarks in a ruling that is expected to help the Washington Redskins in their legal fight over the team name.

  • Lawsuit of 20 Years Becomes Powerful Utah LGBT Rights Win

    (AP) Two women who faced intense backlash when they sued to form the state’s first gay-straight alliance club 20 years ago are looking back at the landmark decision.

  • Legal Tips for Gay Couples

    A friend of mine who is planning a same-sex wedding that my wife and I are hosting, recently asked me about the legal implications of the marriage, considering that it will not be legally recognized in Florida. I prepared some tips for him and wanted to share them.

    • Federal Taxes:For federal tax purposes, the IRS recognizes same-sex marriages that are valid where they are performed, even if the married couple resides in a state that doesn’t recognize the marriage. So for tax purposes, if a gay couple is married somewhere where the marriage is valid and legally recognized, they are treated as married even if they live in Florida.
    • Healthcare Proxies/Hospital Visitation Authorizations:This is one of the most important items and all same-sex couples should have these. These documents help ensure that same-sex couples are treated more equally to heterosexual couples when medical care is involved. Because the need for these documents will often arise unexpectedly, it is important for a couple to have them prepared before a crisis occurs. This way, the couple is prepared should an emergency take place and each partner has the legal right to be involved, make decisions and protect the other.
    • Where to Sue or be Sued?If you’re being sued or need to sue someone, it is probably best to do so in federal court. Heterosexual spouses enjoy a marital privilege, which is comparable to the more commonly known attorney-client privilege. Confidential communications between the spouses are protected.In Florida same-sex spouses, even if married somewhere that recognizes gay marriage, can’t take advantage of marital privilege in state court. As a result, in state court, another party may be able to ask about conversations held between the same sex-spouses (which they could not do with heterosexual spouses). Same-sex spouses have a better chance of being treated like heterosexual spouses on the issue of the marital privilege in federal court than state court in Florida.
    • What if My Spouse/Partner is Injured or Dies?Heterosexual spouses have direct claims against a person who negligently or intentionally injures their spouse in a claim called “loss of consortium.” Because Florida doesn’t recognize gay marriage, this claim is not available to same-sex spouses or domestic partners. However, same-sex partners may be able to assert a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress if they suffer a physical injury as a result of emotional distress from witnessing the death or injury of their partner. This claim may not be successful in the Third or Fourth Districts (Broward, Palm Beach, Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties) as these courts have found that a “legal relationship” is required to maintain such a claim. The Florida Supreme Court hasn’t yet decided this issue, but it should allow such a claim as its previous decisions have only required a “close personal relationship,” which is clearly met by a same-sex couple.
    • Cohabitation Agreements:While Florida doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages, cohabitation agreements or domestic partner agreements are valid. Similar to a prenuptial agreement, such an agreement may set layout spouse/partner responsibilities and provide for a division of the spouses/partners’ property and provide for financial support of the spouses/partners. These agreements make sure that each partner is protected in the event of a divorce or separation. As Florida’s division of property laws that apply to heterosexual marriages will not apply to same-sex couples, early planning is essential to protect both partners.
    • Durable Power of Attorney:As a parallel to the healthcare proxy, which addresses medical decisions, this document enables a spouse/partner to handle legal and financial affairs of the other in the event the other spouse/partner becomes incapacitated.
    • Will and Estate Planning:These are important for anyone to ensure assets are distributed the way they desire upon their death. However, by law, a surviving heterosexual spouse receives a certain percentage if there is no will and is entitled to what is called an “elective share” even where there is. Because same-sex couples cannot take advantage of these provisions, it is essential that they make a plan for the distribution of their property upon their death.
    • Adoption:Thankfully, Florida’s ban on gay adoptions has been overturned, but many legal issues still exist. Where one member of a same-sex couple is the biological or legal parent of a child and the other is not, a second-parent adoption is recommended to ensure that both partners have equal parental rights with respect to the child. There are specific legal requirements in Florida (and elsewhere) to accomplish this. If a second parent adoption is not possible or wanted, then a co-parenting agreement, which spells out the legal rights and responsibilities of each parent, should be entered. If you’re planning to adopt a child from another country, you may want to consider whether to proceed with a same-sex marriage, as some countries prohibit gay couples to adopt.

    While not intended to be comprehensive, these tips should be most helpful.

    Ari J. Glazer is a partner in the law firm Moskowitz, Mandell, Salim and Simowitz, P.A in Fort Lauderdale and has been practicing law for 17 years. His practice focuses mainly on commercial litigation and appeals. He lives in South Florida with his wife Stephanie and rescue dog Babka.

  • LGBT Groups Call for Halt to Kavanaugh Vote Amid Attempted Rape Charges

    (WB) With Christine Blasey Ford coming forward as the individual alleging sexual assault against Brett Kavanaugh, LGBT groups are joining the calls to pull the brake on his confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court ahead of a scheduled vote on his nomination this week.

  • Mayoral Candidate Accuses SFGN of Libel

    On the night of Halloween 2012 Wilton Manors mayoral candidate Boyd Corbin got into an altercation with Dame Edna, a local drag queen. That incident would lead to Corbin’s arrest, but two years later he was cleared of all charges. SFGN wrote about those incidents.