De facto and same-sex marriage law changes around the globe

Jana Simard -Legal News ContributorWest Palm Beach, South Florida (JusticeNewsFlash.com – Family News Report) –- The issue of same-sex marriage has been an on-going discussion on the lips of Senate, House and Federal Government members for many years. From the Eastern to the Western hemispheres, changes in laws and definitions are endless. Recently, Massachusetts Governor Patrick signed a measure that repealed a 1913 law that stated: ‘No marriage shall be contracted in this commonwealth by a party residing and intending to continue to reside in another jurisdiction if such marriage would be void if contracted in such other jurisdiction, and every marriage contracted in this commonwealth in violation hereof shall be null and void.’ Mass. Gen. L. ch. 207, § 11 (2005)

Simply put, if your home state did not recognize your union, it could not be recognized in any other state. Now, a couple living in New Mexico could obtain their marriage license in Massachusetts. The results of a study conducted by the Governor’s staff projected that more than 30,000 couples would visit Massachusetts in order to obtain marriage licenses, bringing $111 million dollars to the economy.

In addition to the changes in the United States, Australia is considering to change the de facto law. De Facto is a term meaning “in fact” or “in reality”. A de facto marriage or common law marriage is one involving a couple that lives together but is not legally married. According to Wikipedia, the essential distinctions of a common law marriage are:

1. Common-law marriages are not licensed by government authorities.
2. Common-law marriages are not recognized.
3. Cohabitation alone does not create a common-law marriage; the couple must hold themselves out to the world as husband and wife; and
a. There must be mutual consent of the parties to the relationship constituting a marriage
b. Both parties must be of legal age to enter into a marriage or have parental consent to marry
4. In some jurisdictions, a couple must have cohabited and held themselves out to the world as husband and wife for a minimum length of time for the marriage to be recognized as valid.

A recent article in ABC News stated that the Federal Government of Sydney, Australia is discussing whether or not to ‘treat de facto relationships, including same-sex couples, exactly the same way as marriage and allowing them equal access to the provisions of the Family Law Act.’ If this new legislation passes, it will order that those couples that have been together for two years, have a child, or have registered their relationship, must be held to the same responsibilities as a legally recognized marriage.

Already this conversation has sparked a flame in those who disagree. One such man is Patrick Parkinson, a law professor at the University of Sydney. In an article in the Sydney Morning Herald, he states his main problem with the proposed legislation is that the Government ‘never commissioned any major research or population-wide opinion polls to determine whether people who have chosen not to marry would like all the consequences of marriage to be imposed on them.’ It is a matter of choice, and the people must be free in order to choose.

As one can see there is always two sides, one for those who agree, one for those who do not and it can only be fair to seek out what the citizens want. It will be interesting to see how the new changes in Massachusetts affect the rest of the nation; and if the bill passes in Australia, it is all a part of our ever-changing world. The best we can hope for is true equality and fairness for all.

Jana Simard -Legal News Contributor

About the Author Legal Reporter

Jana Simard is a contributing writer for Justice News Flash with degrees in Political Science and Spanish. Born in Canada, but raised in sunny south Florida, Jana had an early passion for writing. During her high school and college years she interned at a Florida Congressman's office as well as a Rhode Island Governor and Senator's office. While in her last two years of college, Jana spent six months in Salamanca, Spain where she truly discovered her passion for writing and had her articles published in her school's newspaper. Her experience in two Providence high profile law firms has equipped her with the ability to write for Justice News Flash as a Legal Reporter.