Connecticut lawyers are reaching out to lesbian and gay couples on civil union and gay marriage issues.

Legislators from Connecticut passed a bill in 2005 which created civil unions – legal arrangements that provide some of the same benefits and responsibilities as marriage.

However, the state cannot provide the same federal benefits of marriage due to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which says no state need recognize a marriage between persons of the same sex, even if the marriage is recognized in another state. The Federal Government may not recognize same-sex marriages for any purpose either.

Tax and estate lawyers in the state are recognizing that their expertise is being challenged by gay unions because of the differences between state and federal law. For example, if one partner dies and leaves the estate and money to a domestic partner, Connecticut will not tax the gift – but the federal government will apply a 45 percent tax on the estate before the other partner receives it.

The Hartford Business Journal reports on the growing legal support for lesbian and gay couples in Connecticut.

“It requires a lot of us to pay attention to [the laws] because there are so many changes,” said Dane Dudley, an attorney in Day Pitney’s Hartford office.

Emily Doskow, co-author of “The Legal Guide for Lesbian and Gay Couples” said the book is updated about every 18 months – to keep pace with the changes in same-sex couples law. Doskow said she sees same-sex family law as very active and a cutting-edge area of practice.

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