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Video: Hodge-podge of laws leave same-sex couples confused

  1. Transcript of: Hodge-podge of laws leave same-sex couples confused

    LESTER HOLT, anchor: Many of those couples who tied the knot in New York today came from outside the state and will find their newly married status will not follow them home. The state of gay marriage in this country is a hodgepodge of confusing laws. And as NBC 's George Lewis reports, that means uncertainty for many same-sex couples.

    GEORGE LEWIS reporting: Tom Bechtold and Steve Soucy came all the way from Los Angeles to get married in New York this morning.

    Unidentified Man: We're here to be married because we are not allowed to be married in our own home state.

    LEWIS: That's because in 2008 , Californians passed an initiative called Proposition 8 , outlawing same-sex marriage.

    Unidentified Woman: Love 's compassion is the glory of life.

    LEWIS: Eighteen thousand same-sex couples were wed in California before the measure passed. Those marriages are still considered legal, but any same-sex marriages performed after the passage of Prop 8 are not. So when Tom and Steve return here to Los Angeles , their marriage will not be recognized as legal by California . They'll have rights as domestic partners, but not the same rights as married people .

    Mr. DOUG NEJAIME (Loyola Law School): This is becoming a gigantic mess. We're going to have states with different laws relating to recognition.

    LEWIS: New York now becomes one of six states, plus the District of Columbia , where same-sex marriage is legal. In addition, Maryland and Rhode have pledged to recognize marriages of same-sex couples from out of state. But 41 other states have said they will not recognize those marriages and under the Defense of Marriage Act , neither will the federal government. Ron Wallen from Indio , California , says the law is hurting him. He married his partner, Tom Carrollo , but now that Tom has died, Ron is ineligible for Social Security survivors benefits and he's forced to sell their home.

    Mr. RON WALLEN: We should most assuredly be allowed to have every single right that our fellow Americans have.

    LEWIS: Rights now being fought over state by state and at the federal level. George Lewis , NBC News, Los Angeles .


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