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The New Normal

Event helps newly married same-sex couples navigate legal rights and responsibilities


Despite claims from opponents, including Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, same-sex marriages are little different from heterosexual marriages--there are things to be dealt with like home ownership, raising a family, sharing job and government benefits, and navigating all the other legal aspects of joining together two lives.

The new legal reality for same-sex couples has prompted a number of local professionals to host LGBT Estate Planning, scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 4, at 5:30 p.m. at Plantation Country Club. There, LGBT couples can learn about the new rights and responsibilities that go along with lifting Idaho's ban on same-sex unions, including a primer on changes in real estate law from Bob Thomas of Varin Wardwell Attorneys at Law.

"It'll be similar to a heterosexual couple getting married now with all the changes, but even though it's similar, LGBT couples still need to get education on it--if they've titled property in a certain way and now they're married, that might have to change a little bit," said Jacob Stalnaker, event organizer and Merrill Lynch financial adviser.

Attendees will also get a heads-up about market conditions and strategies from Bryan Pacana, a financial adviser with AllianceBernstein. Though legal and financial firms will present information about the law and financial matters, Stalnaker said that the event is purely informative in nature, and no financial products or services will be pitched to those in attendance.

Though the event is geared toward same-sex couples, Stalnaker said there's nothing LGBT-specific about financial planning.

"A market update's a market update," he told Boise Weekly.

The striking down of Idaho's ban came in the middle of the planning stages for the event, and while one might suspect that the historic ruling would send lawyers scrambling to suss out its legal implications, the right for same-sex couples to marry has simplified, rather than complicated, their legal situations.

"When all of this was happening, we were thinking, 'What does this do to the seminar? Does this change it?' and the attorney said, 'Well no, maybe they'll get benefits that weren't available before,'" Stalnaker said.