SAN FRANCISCO — California is gearing up for the "new summer of love": the legalization of same-sex marriage beginning Monday at 5:01 p.m. Unlike the Massachusetts law, California's new law does not limit marriages to residents of the state, and many out-of-state couples are expected. But after wedding-day celebrations subside, gay and lesbian couples from other states face sobering challenges.
Many will return home to states that explicitly reject same-sex unions. Major gay-rights groups are urging them not to rush into lawsuits demanding that their marriages be recognized. Lawyers warn they may have difficulty divorcing if things go awry.
"This is a very serious undertaking," said Richard Williams, a Chicago lawyer who has been helping local same-sex couples weigh their options.
"It may not be accepted here in Illinois, but it is legal, it is real," Williams said. "If you go to California and get married, there are potential problems and pitfalls that you have to think about."
Likely areas of contention could include inheritance, medical decision-making, health and pension benefits, and child custody.
A study by the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law predicted last week that half of California's more than 100,000 same-sex couples would marry in the next three years, as will an additional 68,000 from out of state.
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