Democrats File Legislation To Repeal Defense Of Marriage Act

Off to a fast start, Democrats in the House and Senate have re-introduced legislation to repeal the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

From Dallas Voice:

The Respect for Marriage Act was introduced by Reps. Jerrold Nadler, D-New York, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Florida, in the House and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, in the Senate. 77 additional House members and 41 other senators have signed on.

The Supreme Court struck down the portion of DOMA barring federal recognition of same-sex marriage in 2013. Since that ruling, same-sex marriage is legal in 36 states and Washington, D.C. But same-sex marriage is still banned in 14 states, including Texas, and they do not have to recognize marriages performed elsewhere. (The Texas marriage case will be heard before the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans on Friday.) The Respect for Marriage Act would fix that.

“The vast majority of Americans live in states where same-sex couples can marry and public support for marriage equality is growing stronger by the day. We must finish the job begun by the Supreme Court by passing the Respect for Marriage Act. The Supreme Court has ruled that Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional, but Congress still must repeal the law in its entirety,” Nadler said in a statement.

Edie Windsor turns 85 today!

Edie Windsor leaving the US Supreme Court

Today marks the 85th birthday of Edith Windsor, whose lawsuit against the federal government led to the fall of DOMA.

Every marriage equality ruling since last June 26, 2013 has referenced the landmark ruling.

The LGBT community will forever be grateful for the courage and tenacity Edie demonstrated in standing up for fairness and equality.

Happy Birthday Edie!

One year ago today: SCOTUS strikes down anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act

Edie Windsor emerging victorious on the steps of the US Supreme Court

One year ago today, Windsor v. United States became one of the most important court cases for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community.

Since then, every single one of the 13 court cases striking down same-sex marriage bans has used the Windsor decision at the core of their legal decision.

From Evan Wolfson at Freedom To Marry:

One year ago today — with smiles of joy and happy tears — we cheered as the Supreme Court announced its ruling to gut DOMA.

Our movement made history that day. And now tens of thousands of same-sex couples have their marriages respected by the federal government.

That landmark decision kicked off a momentous year, with 22 pro-marriage court decisions, including yesterday’s freedom to marry rulings in Indiana and the 10th Circuit federal appellate court. In just 12 months, we’ve grown public support to historic levels and won the freedom to marry in six more states.

Watch below as Edie Windsor talks with Marriage Equality USA about the historic ruling:

One year anniversary of historic oral arguments at SCOTUS – United States v. Windsor

One year ago today, the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments that led to the fall of DOMA.

We all have Edie Windsor to thank for going the distance in bringing her history-making case to the Supreme Court.  The image above, taken as Edie Windsor exited the Supreme Court, shows the exuberance of the moment.

It was the eventual ruling from SCOTUS three months later that opened the doors for much more success in marriage equality lawsuits.

You can read more about the expansive reach of the historic ruling at HRC.

Thank you again Edie Windsor!

Edie Windsor meets President Obama at the White House

President Obama invited DOMA plaintiff Edie Windsor to the France State Dinner this week and took the time to chat with her privately as he thanked her again for her courage to bring her case to the Supreme Court last summer.

From the White House blog:

“The thanks expressed by the President that day have been echoed by millions of Americans, including thousands of legally married couples who can now live their lives with greater justice and dignity – thanks to heroes like Edie Windsor who have been willing to stand up and fight for equality under the law.”

Pentagon: All states now allowing same-sex spouses full benefits

Sec. of Defense Chuck Hagel has issued a statement saying all states are now complying with new post-DOMA/post-DADT rules allowing same-sex spouses of military members to get ID cards in order to claim benefits.

Nine states, including Texas, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi, initially defied the Pentagon by refusing to allow National Guard facilities to issue the ID cards, triggering sharp criticism from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

Under Pentagon policy that took effect Sept. 3, same-sex military spouses are eligible for the same health care, housing and other benefits enjoyed by opposite-sex spouses.


All legal same-sex marriages to be recognized by US Treasury regardless of state of residency

Big news for same-sex married couples as the Federal government has now issued a ruling by Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew that says, in terms of tax policy, the state of celebration is what counts – NOT the state of residence.

Yep, the ruling applies even to gay couples that live in states where their union is not recognized — so long as they were married in a state that allows same-sex marriage.

From the Huffington Post:

Thursday’s ruling by Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew provides a uniform policy for the IRS; the state of celebration — where the wedding took place — now trumps the state of residency when it comes to federal tax status for same-sex married couples.

“Today’s ruling provides certainty and clear, coherent tax filing guidance for all legally married same-sex couples nationwide. It provides access to benefits, responsibilities and protections under federal tax law that all Americans deserve,” Lew said in a statement. “This ruling also assures legally married same-sex couples that they can move freely throughout the country knowing that their federal filing status will not change.”

Under the new Treasury policy, all federal tax provisions where marriage is a factor, including filing status, employee benefits, IRA contributions, earned income, child tax credits, and income, gift and estate taxes, will apply to same sex couples regardless of where they live.

The Human Rights Campaign responds:

“With today’s ruling, committed and loving gay and lesbian married couples will now be treated equally under our nation’s federal tax laws, regardless of what state they call home,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. “These families finally have access to crucial tax benefits and protections previously denied to them under the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act.”

The ruling does not apply to those in registered domestic partnerships or civil unions. So, for states like New Jersey, where the governor is trying to argue that civil unions are equal to full marriage – this underlines how civil unions and domestic partnerships fall short of full equality.

Social Security benefits to be extended to LGBT married couples in marriage equality states only

We finally get clarity on one of the big benefits of marriage equality – Social Security benefits. But pay attention – the federal government has decided to limit Social Security benefits to couples who live in states where marriage equality is legal. Married in Massachusetts but live in Pennsylvania? You’re out of luck.

The Social Security Administration had tried to trumpet the fact that it was starting to make benefits available to same-sex married couples. But the fine print is that eligibility for federal benefits depends upon the state in which you live. This was an issue identified immediately in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling in June.

This isn’t the case regarding ALL federal benefits of marriage. The State Department doesn’t care where you live if you and your spouse apply for a visa, and the Pentagon is actually considering leave for gay and lesbian military personnel to travel to get married so that they will be entitled to military spouse benefits no matter where they live. The Labor Department just extended Family and Medical Leave rights to same-sex married couples.

However, the Social Security Administration is hampered by a statute that prevents it from unilaterally offering benefits to all couples. The only way to change the policy would be a legislative solution. And with the House currently in the hands of the GOP folks, that’s a “no-go.”

So, pick where you live carefully. In the case of your Social Security benefits, geography is destiny.

(via Queerty)

House Republicans cave in on defending same-sex marriage discrimination

Speaker John Boehner and the House Republican leadership have announced they will no longer defend anti-marriage statutes in court.

“[T]he House has determined, in light of the Supreme Court’s opinion in Windsor, that it no longer will defend that statute,” lawyers for the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG), controlled by House Republicans, wrote about veterans’ benefits statutes that similarly ban recognition of same-sex couples’ marriages.

“The document from the legal team speaks for itself,” House Speaker John Boehner’s spokesman, Michael Steel, told BuzzFeed, when asked for comment on the move.

The plaintiffs in the case, filed in Massachusetts by Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and Chadbourne and Park, — led by Maj. Shannon McLaughlin, a judge advocate general in Massachusetts Army National Guard, and her wife, Casey — challenge two statutes in Title 38 of the U.S. Code regarding veterans’ benefits that define “spouse” as “a person of the opposite sex.”

The Human Rights Campaign has issued this statement: “After millions of taxpayer dollars wasted defending discrimination, it’s a historic sign of the times that the House leadership is dropping its pointless quest to maintain second-class status for lesbian and gay couples,” HRC president Chad Griffin said.

(via Buzzfeed)