Q: Even though my partner and I don't live in Iowa, can we get married there? Will it be recognized in my home state of California? And while I'm asking, who does the proposing in a same-sex couple? -Two dudes in Sacramento
A: Timely question! Starting this week, yes, it's true: Same-sex couples can wed in Iowa, which becomes the third state in the union (after Massachusetts and Connecticut) to allow same-sex marriage. In fact, couples that want to marry in Iowa do not need to be residents of the Hawkeye State. Since you'll be traveling a long distance, remember to bring photo IDs as well as your Social Security cards in order to obtain an Iowa marriage certificate. Also, if you've been married and are now divorced, bring along those papers as well. A couple of other important technicalities:
• Couples will need to wait three days for the marriage application to be processed
• Fees are usually about $30 but vary from county to county
• You are not required to take a blood test to get married in Iowa
• You will need a witness with you when you apply for the license (your husband - or wife-to-be - cannot act as the witness)
• Your marriage does not become valid until a clergymen or justice of the peace officiates over your wedding ceremony
As for your second question, no, your wedding will not be recognized by the Golden State - at least not as of this writing. You'll likely remember that California voters passed Prop 8 last fall; Prop 8 is the odious act that prohibits same-sex marriage. Unfortunately, when you return home you will be strangers in the eyes of the law. This is true in nearly all states, which will not recognize same-sex marriages that take place in Iowa.
For those of you who live in Iowa (it's estimated that there are just under 6,000 same-sex couples in state), you'll be able to take advantage of all state laws and benefits that apply to married couples. Alas, you are not entitled to any of the thousand-plus federal benefits (tax, immigration and Social Security benefits to name a few) that married heterosexuals may enjoy.
Finally, who pops the question? Among straights, traditionally it's been the guy who asks the girl, but even that's evolved in recent years. For same-sex couples, we're not burdened by any such traditions. Either of you is free to ask the other. So, go for it guys! (And, if you're booking your flights to Iowa, let me remind you that Des Moines is the capital.) Mazel tov!
Visit Steven Petrow on the Web at www.gayandlesbianmanners.com