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Same-sex marriage issues may complicate interstate travel

People going on long trips often know the complications of travel. There are bags to pack, ensuring that all items and potential weather contingencies are accounted for. If they have pets, travelers must secure care for the pet or make travel arrangements. If there are children involved, especially young children, there are additional cares and concerns. Unfortunately for parents who have taken advantage of same-sex marriage laws in Massachusetts who travel to a state that doesn't recognize their marriage, there is an entirely different set of problems that may occur.

Same-sex couples who have small children often feel like they have to travel with birth certificates for the kids in order to prove they are the child's parents in case questioned. Some same-sex couples assert that this is a concern that most heterosexual couples do not face to such a degree. One man is especially concerned about traveling with his son, who he adopted with his same-sex partner, because he is a different race and has a different last name. Some people in a same-sex relationship warn of the importance of making sure a legal adoption has taken place in order to reduce possible complications in states that do not recognize same-sex marriage.

Additionally, same-sex partners have to worry about access to their partner in the hospital in the case of a medical emergency. If an emergency occurs in a state that does not recognize a same-sex marriage, someone may be denied access to his or her partner if he or she is hospitalized. In one case, a woman died alone when the hospital wouldn't allow her partner, or three adopted children, to visit her because their marriage wasn't recognized by the state. Even though the surviving partner had power of attorney, a federal court upheld the actions of the hospital.

Massachusetts is currently one of 16 states, in addition to the District of Columbia, that has legalized same-sex marriage. While more and more cases are challenging the constitutionality of laws banning such marriages, and much progress has been made toward securing equal rights, same-sex couples may continue to encounter complications when they travel across state lines. Some people recommend that papers documenting power of attorney and adoptions be secured and included among the items to bring along on a trip.

Source: Chicago Sun-Times, Maudlyne Ihejirika, Jan. 18, 2014

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