Articles Posted in Diversity

I have long been a supporter of gay marriage and the rights of LGBT folks to have the same rights as the rest of us. However, I also think it is important to be flexible and open to new ideas and discussions any all controversial issues. Hence, more ideas on gay marriage and beyond.

As same-sex marriage becomes increasingly legal in various states, more companies require that their employees become legally married in order for their partners to qualify for health insurance. Currently, many of these same companies already provide domestic partner benefits for employees with same sex partner in states where cannot legally marry.

While this would appear to be what advocates of same-sex marriage want, there may also be unintended consequences. One obvious problem is that although the marriage may be recognized in a given state, it is not yet recognized by the federal government making marriage not a feasible choice for some couples and in so doing would deprive them of the health insurance benefits they previously enjoyed. It is important that when states legalize gay marriage, they also keep the domestic partnership option available at least until gay marriage is recognized by the federal government.

I live and practice law in Fremont, California, one of the most diverse communities in the diverse San Francisco Bay area. Over half the population of Fremont is Asian and Fremont has more folks from Afghanistan than any city in the US. Consequently, many of my clients are Asian and Middle Eastern.

Asian clients often express their belief that divorce is more shameful in their culture and consequently more difficult for them. In addition, in those cultures where arranged marriages are common, and even if the marriage itself was not arranged, the divorce involves the entire extended family.

Another difficulty for these clients in a divorce is that the cultural and legal systems from their country of origin differ from the American system, but American courts will not take these factors into account. For example, aspects of Sharia law or property issues related to dowry may be very important to the spouses but will not be factors that a California divorce court will consider. But in mediation or Collaborative, couples can incorporate their own sense of fairness and justice and/or values and principles that derive from their cultural and ethnic background and thereby create agreements that honor their highest values and the values of their culture.

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