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Calif. Gay Marriages Raise Legal Questions Nationwide

The laws governing marriage nationwide are a complicated state-by-state patchwork, with little or no interstate recognition. The recent ruling in California legalizing same-sex marriage adds another layer of complexity to the legal landscape. Legal experts examine these questions.

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    Finally, Ray Suarez looks at the shifting legal landscape surrounding same-sex partnerships.


    With thousands of couples expected to marry in California this summer, it now becomes the second state, along with Massachusetts, to legalize same-sex marriages. It also adds another layer of complexity to a patchwork quilt of laws governing marriage nationwide.

    In New York, Governor David Paterson has said his state will soon recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. And eight states and the District of Columbia allow for civil unions or provide domestic partnership benefits.

    But 26 states have constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage, and every state other than California or Massachusetts currently have other laws barring same-sex marriages.

    To understand the legal questions this raises, we turn to two professors of law: John Eastman, dean of the Chapman University School of Law in Orange, California; and David Cruz of the University of Southern California School of Law.