Marriage Equality in the Aftermath of the DOMA Ruling


“Why do gay people want to get married and be in the military, which are the two worst things about being straight?”Fran Lebowitz

But, we do.

One day after the SCOTUS ruling overturning Section 3 of federal DOMA, the IRS issued this statement:  “We are reviewing the important June 26 Supreme Court decision on the Defense of Marriage Act. We will be working with the Department of Treasury and Department of Justice, and we will move swiftly to provide revised guidance in the near future.”

One day later, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued its memorandum describing how the ruling will affect federal employees with respect to health, dental, life and long-term care insurance, federal retirement benefits, and flexible spending accounts.  These federal benefits were extended to all “legally married” same sex couples.  Later, the OPM clarified that the “state of celebration” rule would govern how to determine the “legality” of a marriage.

You may notice I am using quotes.  Yes, I am intending to be sarcastic.  I know that the debate about “gay marriage” is an artifice.  “Legal marriage” is a societal construct with religious underpinnings.  And, in this country it is a doorway to special federal and state tax and legal benefits not available to those who have not entered through its portals.  Hence, there is institutionalized discrimination against those adults who our society has said cannot legally marry.  The Supreme Court did not strike down DOMA in full, however, but chose to invalidate only Section 3, leaving the federal government with a very big mess on its hands, and allowing states to continue with their institutionalized discrimination against gay couples.

In the days which have ticked away since the DOMA ruling, the IRS has said nothing further, leaving the experts to speculate on the political quagmire which IRS must slog through as it grapples with the complex issues which have arisen in the wake of the SCOTUS ruling.

In addition to trying to conclude WHO is legally married, IRS must also determine whether that status could change merely because the couple decides to move, or perhaps work elsewhere.  Not only that, IRS must consider WHEN to begin acknowledging such legal marriages.  Is it 2013?  Is it when the couple got married?  Is it when they moved to a state that acknowledged their marriage as legal?  Is it for all the open tax years?

This is perhaps why we have heard nothing further from IRS.  They have a lot on their plates right now recovering from the faux Tea Party targeting scandal and dealing with high level staffing changes as well as threatened budget cuts.

Meanwhile,  the Lambda website page on the SCOTUS DOMA ruling contains some helpful guidance.


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