March 10, 2008
Marriage mischief of a different sort
Posted by: Andoni
I was struck by today’s New York Times article on Montana's “double proxy” marriages, in which both husband and wife are absent from the ceremony and use stand-ins. Montana is the only state in the union that permits double proxy marriages, which not surprisingly have spawned a cottage industry of lawyers and "professional stand ins."
As someone in a relationship with a foreign partner, my constant worry is how I can arrange our lives so that my partner will be able to live here permanently in the U.S. and get a green card.
One route I keep in the back of my mind is to marry him, should Congress repeal the part of the Defense of Marriage Act that forbids the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages, including for immigration rights. If that happens and my partner happens to be in the U.S., we could quickly move to Massachusetts and get married.
But if DOMA is repealed after my partner’s visa expires and he is out of the country, what happens? Could I obtain a "single proxy marriage" because I’m here and he’s overseas? The sad news is that only four states allow single proxy marriages -– California, Colorado, Texas and Montana -- and even in these states the marriages are restricted to military personnel serving in combat zones.
So even though my interest was piqued by this article as a possible route for my partner and me to marry if we become separated, after studying proxy marriage, it will not help us and we do not qualify.
An interesting side note is that U.S. immigration law will not recognize proxy marriages for immigration purposes unless the marriages are consummated. I don’t think this would present an obstacle for my partner and me. We can consummate, whenever the government wishes.
But here’s another interesting point in my research of proxy marriages. They are not universally recognized from state to state. Some states recognize the proxy the marriage of other states and countries, and some states do not.
So here we are in 2008 and still some states are not recognizing marriage licenses legally issued by other states. How can two people married by proxy in California move to New York and find out they are not married there? What does this mean for the future battle for recognition of same sex marriage? What does it mean for the “full faith and credit” provision of the U.S. Constitution?
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