California Same-Sex Marriage FAQ
Answers to common questions
1. What are the requirements for same-sex couples to get married in California?
2. Where can we get married in California?
3. Who can marry us?
active and retired state court judges and court commissioners and assistant commissioners;
commissioners of civil marriages or retired commissioners of civil marriage;
justices or retired justices of the U.S. Supreme Court;
judges, magistrate judges, retired judges, or retired magistrate judges of other federal courts;
state legislators or constitutional officers of the state;
members of Congress who represent a district within this state; and,
4. Are marriage licenses public?
5. My partner and I are Registered Domestic Partners. Does this mean we are automatically married?
No. You would need to follow the steps above to become legally married in California.
6. Do we have to terminate our domestic partnership before getting married?
7. Are Domestic Partnerships still available if we don’t want to get married?
Yes. Under California law, Domestic Partnerships still exist and are available for same-sex couples.
8. Domestic partnerships and marriage. Do we need both?
In some cases, it may provide a legal advantage to have a legal domestic partnership and legal marriage. As a same-sex couple, it may help if you move to another state. It may also help protect you when traveling in other states or countries. Please consult an attorney or your particular situation.
9. My partner and I got married in another state or country. Do we have to get married again in California?
No. California law recognizes marriages performed in other jurisdictions.
10. What if we got married before Proposition 8 went into effect? Do we have to get married again?
No. California law recognizes marriages performed in other jurisdictions. Same-sex marriages performed before Proposition 8 took effect are legally valid.
11. If one of us is from another country, how will marriage affect that partner’s immigration status?
The repeal of DOMA Section 3 has opened a previously closed path for you or your spouse to apply for permanent resident status (“green card”). Immigration law is very complex. Thus, it is important to speak with an experienced immigration attorney. Especially BEFORE marrying or filing any marriage-based immigration paperwork.
12. We are from another state. Can we get married in California? Will our marriage be valid in our home state?
Yes. Every state must recognize same-sex marriages. This has been federal law since the Obergefell decision of the United States Supreme Court.
13. Can same sex couples be refused services for our wedding from private businesses or individual? What about churches and clergy members?
14. Can we be refused rental housing by a property owner or landlord because of our same-sex marriage?
No. California law prohibits housing discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and marital status.
15. Can I be denied employment if I’m in a same-sex marriage?
No. California law prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and marital status. However, the answer may be more involved if your potential employer is a religious organization. If you believe that you faced discrimination, contact a Pride Legal employment attorney for advice.
16. Are employers required to provide the same benefits to same-sex spouses as they do to opposite-sex spouses?
No. California law forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. As mentioned above, certain exemptions may apply to religious organizations. Check with an attorney if you have any questions.
17. If my partner and I get married, can an adoption or foster agency discriminate against us?
No. California prohibits adoption and foster care agencies from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. If you are considering international adoption, be aware that many countries do not allow same-sex parents to adopt. Check with a qualified gay adoption attorney for legal advice.
18. What happens if we marry in California and later wish to divorce?
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