As a Floridian and a Miami immigration attorney, I am proud to join in the resounding chorus of support for a very momentous occasion. As of Monday, January 6, 2015, gay couples will be able to obtain marriage licenses from the State of Florida. I congratulate the LGBT community for this historical development, and thank them for their tireless activism in bringing this day to fruition.
If you and your same-sex partner are thinking of getting married, here are three things to keep in mind:
- Getting Your Marriage License
Florida law requires a three-day wait between the time when a couple applies for a marriage license, and when they can have a wedding ceremony. Couples who complete a four-hour marital counseling course can skip the waiting period and save money on a license. The courses can be taken in person or online.
2. Applying in Person
Please be aware that both spouses must apply for the license in person. You will need a valid picture ID such as a driver’s license, state ID card, or valid passport. Both parties will also have to provide their Social Security numbers. Please note – you do not need to provide your Social Security Cards, according to the state website.
3. Cost of a Marriage License
The marriage license costs $93.50, but that can be reduced by up to $32.50 if the couple completes the pre-marital course. Licenses are valid for 60 days. The wedding ceremony can take place in any county, not just the one where the license is issued.
Can I have a gay wedding ceremony at all courthouses?
Unfortunately, the answer to this question is “no.” There are a handful of Florida county clerks who have said they will stop offering all courthouse wedding ceremonies to avoid performing those ceremonies for same-sex couples. The three counties who are stopped offering courthouse wedding ceremonies are: Duval, Clay and Baker counties. Gay couples will still be able to obtain marriage licenses from these three counties; however, be aware that the three counties have decided to end all courthouse weddings to avoid performing those ceremonies for same-sex couples, among other reasons. The clerks in Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties also have made similar announcements.
Are there immigration benefits for same-sex marriage couples?
Yes. After the United States Supreme Court held that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) were required to review immigration visa petitions filed on behalf of a same-sex spouse in the same manner as those filed on behalf of an opposite-sex spouse. Thus, LGBTS are now afforded the right to obtain immigration benefits based on same-sex marriages.
What does this mean for same-sex couples in Florida?
If you are in a same-sex relationship, you can now obtain a valid marriage license from the State of Florida. Doing so will allow you or your spouse to adjust status based upon his/her marriage to a United States citizen. If you or your loved one is considering this course of action, I would highly recommend that you consult with a Miami immigration lawyer to discuss your options.
If you think would like more information on same-sex marriage and related immigration benefits, please contact Miami immigration attorney Michael G. Murray, Esq. at (305)895-2500 or visit our website at www. mmurraylaw.com .