"Everyone has the right and should be treated equally under the law regardless of sexual orientation. The federal government has finally taken a step towards equal marriage rights for everyone," says attorney Max Meyers. On February 10, 2014, Attorney General Eric Holder issued a memorandum reinforcing these beliefs in an effort to reduce discrimination in states where same-sex marriage is still illegal.
Washington is one of 17 states, along with Washington, D.C., to recognize same-sex marriages as valid. This means all couples who are legally married in any state will enjoy the same marital privileges, regardless of sexual orientation or gender. While our state laws now reflect equality in treatment of all married couples, many states still do not recognize these marriages as valid.
Legal Protections for Same-Sex Couples
While your rights to marital privilege such as prison visitation, medical power of attorney and the ability to file joint bankruptcy are protected in Washington, the same may not hold true if you are traveling or move to a non-marriage equality state. Even our neighbors to the south, Oregon, do not fully recognize same-sex marriage and only allow civil unions and partnerships. While this gives couples most marital rights, it does not completely extend to laws where the language still includes "marriage" or "spouse."
Same-sex couples married in Washington should seek legal advice when traveling abroad or living in a state where same-sex marriage is not recognized. The state and local laws may not acknowledge the marriage, leaving a grieving spouse locked out from his or her spouse's hospital room in cases of serious injury.
The recent memorandum applies to spousal benefits and rights at a federal level. Therefore, cases handled under state law still may discriminate against the marriage if brought in a non-equality state.
Attorney Max Meyers Weighs in on the Issue
Attorney Max Meyers sees this recent development as a positive sign that same-sex couples ideally will be treated equally in all matters of law. "This federal change, along with changes by the Washington legislature, now cements the rights of a spouse in a same sex-marriage to make loss of consortium claims in motor vehicle accidents,” he notes.
“In the most serious cases involving fatal motor vehicle accidents, a widowed spouse in a same sex-marriage now has the ability to make survivor and wrongful death claims arising from a fatal collision. No longer will the most serious motor vehicle accidents devastate the economic life of a same sex-marriage. Same sex-marriages now fully have the same rights to receive fair compensation for all the harm caused from serious motor vehicle accidents."
Max Meyers Law handles all serious motor vehicle accident claims, regardless of the victim's gender, sexual orientation or marital status. Max believes that all victims deserve legal representation of the highest quality to ensure that their needs and rights are met and upheld. If you or your loved one have been seriously injured in a vehicle accident, Max Meyers Law is here to help. Contact us at 425-399-7000 to schedule a consultation and determine if your marital rights are being upheld in your injury or wrongful death case.