Before I Do

A Legal Guide to Marriage, Gay and Otherwise

The dos and don’ts for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people—and anyone else—who may be considering marriage

“Anyone in a relationship should read this book! Schwartz lays out the laws that affect relationships with stunning clarity and brevity, and her humor, humanity, and graphics make it a compelling read.” —Mary Bonauto, Civil Rights Project Director, GLAD

Not long ago, same-sex couples had to jump through endless hoops to make their relationships even close to legal. For the most part, those days are over. Same-sex couples no longer have to operate as outlaws—they too can have in-laws! But here’s the rub: many gay and lesbian couples, accustomed to living off-grid, are so thrilled to have the benefits of marriage that they gleefully jump into marriage without fully understanding the consequences.

In her first book, Before I Do, leading gay rights attorney Elizabeth F. Schwartz spells out the range of practical considerations couples should address before tying the knot. She explores the rights marriage provides and those it does not. With cameos from some of the most prominent LGBT professionals, Schwartz explains all of the implications of marriage from name changes and getting a license to taxes, insurance, Social Security, and much more.

Substantial chapters on estate planning, pre- and post-nuptial agreements, and organizing finances make Before I Do relevant for all couples, young and older, and a crucial handbook for anyone considering marriage—because, as Schwartz explains, just because you can get married does not mean you should.

Praise

“Anyone in a relationship should read this book! Schwartz lays out the laws that affect relationships with stunning clarity and brevity, and her humor, humanity, and graphics make it a compelling read.”
—Mary Bonauto, Civil Rights Project Director, GLAD
“Elizabeth Schwartz’s new book is a must-read for couples who are thinking about marrying and want to get it right.”
—Serene Jones, president of Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York
“LGBT lawyer Elizabeth Schwartz has written a colorful and comprehensive guide to marriage, using real-world examples from her legal case files, and including helpful contributions by experts in the field. Her book covers every conceivable aspect of matrimony, including the choice not to marry. Any couple—straight or gay—would benefit from reading Before I Do before saying ‘I do.””
—Amy Dickinson, “Ask Amy” syndicated advice columnist
“At last, a sensible guide to practical issues facing all couples considering marriage. Schwartz tackles tough issues that all too many couples avoid discussing and offers sensible advice that can be helpful to anyone in a relationship—however that may be defined.”
—Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt, president of the Rabbinic Cabinet of the Jewish Federations of North America
“Few decisions are more consequential than marriage. Before marrying, there are a few legal questions you should ask to give your ‘I do’ the surest chance of longevity and satisfaction. Schwartz’s book is the best insurance for your own ‘happily ever after.’”
—Kate Kendell, Esq., executive director, National Center for Lesbian Rights
“During my thirty years of covering the gay beat for the Miami Herald, never did I imagine the need for a marriage guide for LGBT couples. Yet today nothing is more urgent. Before I Do guides all couples, gay and otherwise, about the responsibilities of marriage. Ignore it at your peril.”
—Steve Rothaus, The Miami Herald

News and Reviews

San Francisco Bay Times

Elizabeth Schwartz, author of Before I Do, shares four LGBT FAQs for life during the Trump administration.

The Bay Area Reporter

The Bay Area Reporter calls Before I Do "a must-have preparatory reference book for anyone contemplating a marital union with the same or the opposite sex."