The New York Civil Liberties Union today released a “Know Your Rights” guide that answers frequently asked questions concerning the Marriage Equality Act – the new law granting lesbian and gay couples the freedom to marry in New York State.

The guide, written by NYCLU attorneys, is a brief but comprehensive Q&A about the new marriage law, which will take effect on July 24. It covers a wide range of topics, including the nuts and bolts of applying for a marriage license; the rights and responsibilities conferred by marriage; the implications of the law’s religious exemptions; and limitations on same-sex couple’s rights imposed by the discriminatory federal Defense of Marriage Act. It is available online at

“Getting married is hectic enough without being confused about your rights,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “Our guide will fully inform couples about the rights, benefits and protections they are entitled to under the Marriage Equality Act. We hope it provides couples some peace of mind as they weigh one of life’s most important decisions.”

The guide answers questions such as:

  • How do we get married? What do we need to do?
  • If we don’t live in New York, can we still get married in New York?
  • What kinds of benefits will we get from marriage?
  • What effect does the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) have on our marriage?
  • Can a church or member of the clergy refuse to marry me and my partner?
  • Can I be discriminated against for marrying someone of the same sex?
  • Can a private business, like a florist or photography studio, refuse to provide a service for my wedding because I am marrying a person of the same sex?

The guide is currently available on the NYCLU’s website at A printed version will be made available shortly.