It was a day many couples dream of for Mignon R. Moore, 42, and Elaine Harley, 43, who exchanged wedding vows at a beachside ceremony in Los Cabos, Mexico, in 2012. The native New Yorkers marked their 10-year relationship by obtaining a marriage license from the state. Unfortunately, they are not receiving all the benefits of a legal marriage because they have been living in Los Angeles for the past six years, where they are recognized not as spouses but as domestic partners.
“We only had a small window of time to get married in California before Prop 8 [the ballot initiative that stripped same-sex marriage], so we never got the opportunity,” says Moore, an associate professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Most people take for granted the financial safety net a legal marriage creates, says attorney Camilla Taylor, Marriage Project director at Lambda Legal, a national organization advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and people with HIV.