Another Marriage Issue: Transsexual Marriage

The popular TV show Dancing with the Stars has been a hotbed for discussion and criticism this season due to one of its contestants: Chaz Bono. Chaz Bono, formerly known as Chastity Bono, is the famous transsexual son of Sonny and Cher Bono. The topic of transsexualism which has been gained a lot of attention in the popular media has also gained attention in the legal sphere and in this month’s New York State Bar Association Journal they ran an article entitled “Planning Considerations for the Transsexual Client.”

The article, written by Caryn B. Keppler, discussed many of the practical difficulties that transsexual clients face. Most notable were the issues relating to marriage. With the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and state mini-DOMAs defining marriage as the “legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife” the question arises as to what is a man and woman for definition purposes? Is it the biological sex assigned at birth? Or is it one’s current anatomical state? For transsexuals the answer to these questions is often different and can pose unique problems. For example: If you have a male to female transsexual who wants to marry a male is that a marriage between a woman and man or is it a gay marriage/civil union/partnership?

While a handful of states have recognized gay marriage only one state, New Jersey, has provided some legal recognition to a marriage of a post-surigical transsexual. In the case of M.T. v. J.T. the Court recognized the marriage of a male to female transsexual who was married to a male after sexual reassignment surgery.… <Read More>

A Quickie Divorce? Not So Quick.

Everyone has heard of the quickie wedding or the shotgun wedding, but what about a quickie divorce? Even with the enactment of no-fault divorce in every state, many no-fault statutes still require a period of separation or attestation to a period of breakdown. New York’s no-fault statute DRL§170(7) states “The relationship between husband and wife has broken down irretrievably for a period of at least six months, provided that one party has so stated under oath.” Conversely, to get married in New York, a person must wait 24 hours between the issuance of a marriage license and the solemnization of marriage. Thus, to enter into the institution of marriage you need to only wait one day whereas to get out of the institution of marriage and obtain a divorce you need to have a six month breakdown.

These two notions bring up interesting problems. For example, what if someone enters into a marriage and two months later determines that was a mistake and wants to get divorced? Or what about the young couple who fall in love and elope in Las Vegas, only to realize a month later it was a mistake? If annulment is not an option, what option is available? When you have been married less than six months how do you attest that your marriage has been broken down irretrievably for at least six months? A couple could easily spend more time trying to get out of a marriage and get a divorce then the amount of time they were actually (happily) married.… <Read More>

Teen Bullying: Should it be a Crime?

Lady Gaga recently paid nearly $40,000 dollars to attend a dinner with President Obama. The “Mother Monster” had one thing on her mind to discuss with the President: bullying. The topic has received considerable coverage in recent weeks from trending on Twitter to interviews on the Today Show.  The current spotlight on bullying in the media is due to recent suicides of teenagers who were bullied because of their sexuality.

The recent suicide of 14 year-old, Jamey Rodemeyer, from Buffalo, New York, has caused many people to cry out that bullying should be made a crime. Jamey Rodemeyer was a young teen who was struggling with his sexuality and as a result was a merciless target of bullying. While the death of Jamey Rodemeyer and the numerous other teenagers who commit suicide as a consequence of bullying is undoubtedly tragic, the implications of making bullying a crime are complicated, and doing so may not be feasible.

The hardest question is how bullying should be defined? When does normal adolescent teasing and poking fun go from “kids being kids” to bullying? Is bullying to be measured by a subjective or objective standard? Furthermore, what topics or issues would be criminalized? Bullying because of one’s sexuality? Sure, but what about because of someone’s weight, or because they’re a “nerd”, or not popular, or not a good athlete? Criminalizing bullying would inevitably lead to a slippery slope argument where any topic a kid could be teased about is all of a sudden a bullying crime.… <Read More>