Defense of Marriage Act

Post-DOMA-ruling chaos, mayhem, slippery slopes, Bert and Ernie on the New Yorker cover

Well, you were right, everyone. The world ended.

All the horrible things you feared have come to pass. Moments after the Supreme Court handed down its DOMA ruling, every marriage contract signed between a man and a woman began to shiver and shake, and the ink faded away like a spell gone wrong. People on the Internet knew the end was near and began posting ill-advised Vines and comparing each other to Hitler.

The New Yorker did put this on its cover, which I guess is similar to having a giant, wrathful Sharktopus surge up from the ocean and swallow Seattle — but not really.

The sky fell, the waters rose, and everything that everyone always feared would happen, happened.

In all the confusion of joy surrounding the ruling, I slid down a slippery slope and entered a polygamous compact with a cat. Justice Scalia was wed, against his will, to a cyborg dog. It was awful.

via Post-DOMA-ruling chaos, mayhem, slippery slopes, Bert and Ernie on the New Yorker cover.

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DOMA’s Demise: A Wake-Up Call for Employers – Businessweek

We don’t have to peg our wages and benefits to prevailing legal standards in every city, state, and country in which we operate. Would we peg our customer-service policies to merely what local laws require? Not likely. We’re used to dealing with customers and suppliers as though they are valued partners in our businesses. Our relationships with them are governed less by minimum legal requirements and more by our desire to work collaboratively for the benefit of all parties.

Not so with employees, for far too many employers. Organizations that merely complied with the old DOMA-era laws are scrambling to rewrite policies, employee communication materials, and training programs, and they’ll be at the task for months.

To avoid the tedious rewrites and expensive reprinting headaches in the future, corporate leaders can get ahead of all that by setting their sights higher than “Our Employee Relations goal is to not break the law.” They can establish a human workplace that attracts the best talent in their industries.

When you shift your human resources lens away from “What does the law require?” toward “What will it take to hire awesome people and keep them excited?” everybody’s job gets easier. If we could get away from the prevailing compliance mind-set in HR and teach human resources people to build trust, collaboration, and creativity among their co-workers, the vast majority of our HR-related regulatory headaches would go away.

via DOMA’s Demise: A Wake-Up Call for Employers – Businessweek.

Court watchers: Opinion shift on gay marriage hard for justices to ignore – The Hill – covering Congress, Politics, Political Campaigns and Capitol Hill | TheHill.com

The dramatic shift in public opinion on same-sex marriage is likely to affect the Supreme Court’s historic rulings on the issue later this month, say legal scholars.

The justices often say they do not worry at all about politics or public opinion, and simply do what they believe the law compels them to.

But it will be hard if not impossible for them ignore the enormous transformation in opinion on same sex marriage, court watchers say, especially with two cases that offer them flexibility in how to rule.

“I have to think the justices — and especially the chief — are very cognizant of the shifting public opinion,” said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond.



The justices aren’t driven by polling the way elected lawmakers are, but they are often mindful of the court’s credibility. Chief Justice John Roberts, in particular, has shown himself to be an “institutionalist” who wants to protect the court’s legitimacy, Tobias said. That was clear in last year’s decision on ObamaCare.

The political pressures facing the court on same-sex marriage are blowing from several directions, however, making it uncertain exactly how the court will rule.

“I don’t think you can say confidently which way it cuts,” said Tom Goldstein, a Supreme Court attorney and the founder of SCOTUSBlog.

via Court watchers: Opinion shift on gay marriage hard for justices to ignore – The Hill – covering Congress, Politics, Political Campaigns and Capitol Hill | TheHill.com.

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Supreme Court DOMA Ruling Looms Over Immigration Overhaul – ABC News

Before U.S. lawmakers decide whether they will address same-sex couples in a comprehensive immigration overhaul bill, the Supreme Court could make the decision for them.

The high court faces a choice this month to uphold or strike down all or parts of the federal Defense of Marriage Act’s definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman. If DOMA is struck down, gay marriage advocates will view it as an unambiguously positive outcome for their cause because, in part, it also resolves the question of whether the immigration law can apply to same-sex couples.

“For the first time in immigration equality’s history, our legal team is now assisting couples in preparing their green card applications,” said Steve Ralls, the communications director at the advocacy group Immigration Equality. “We’re definitely preparing couples. The court ruling and the backup plan of congressional legislation make us confident more so than at any other time.”

But a court decision has its downsides as well. Although the Obama administration is likely to implement the court’s decision in a way favorable to gay marriage advocates, a future administration might not.

If DOMA is upheld or if the court’s ruling on the constitutionality of a federal definition of marriage is less clear, the result could be continued legal uncertainty for gay couples. One way Democrats in the Senate and gay marriage advocates have hoped to resolve this is by attaching an amendment to the immigration bill that would give same-sex couples the same benefits as heterosexual couples under the immigration law.

But Democrats face an uphill struggle in Congress where Republicans have staunchly opposed the inclusion of a same-sex marriage amendment in the immigration bill. A principal Republican sponsor of the legislation, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said Thursday he would walk away from his own immigration bill if a same-sex marriage amendment is included.

With the court’s final decision fast approaching, here are some ways the issue could shake out:

 

via Supreme Court DOMA Ruling Looms Over Immigration Overhaul – ABC News.

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7 Reasons DOMA & Prop 8 need to be stopped – TGV News

There are currently 12 states, and the District of Columbia currently that allow same sex marriage. The Supreme Court decision will soon be made with Proposition 8, and DOMA. It is time to refocus to many advantages gay marriage would have, and the pursuit of marriage equality.

There are at least seven ways in which the legalization of gay marriage is beneficial for LGBTQ Americans and the United States of America.

Gay Marriage Promotes Equality and Non-Discrimination in Society

Millions of LGBTQ contribute daily to American life in a multitude of ways culturally, socially, financially, politically, vocationally, and spiritually. We are fundamental to this nation’s continued growth and evolution, the U.S.A. would suffer greatly from the withdrawal of our many contributions. The legalization of same-sex marriage affirms the inherent worthiness of LGBTQ people as valued American citizens deserving of equal rights under the law.

via 7 Reasons DOMA & Prop 8 need to be stopped – TGV News.

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DOMA 2013: 17 Years Later, Some Things Still Haven’t Changed

In the 10 years since Massachusetts became the first state in the country to recognize same-sex marriages, another 10 states have taken similar steps. As of this writing, Massachusetts, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Maine, New York, Washington, Maryland, Rhode Island, and Delaware have all recognized same-sex marriages. Minnesotaseems likely to join them as soon as the end of this week. There is widespread expectation that a large number of other states will soon follow. California, pending the Supreme Court’s decision on Proposition 8, may be amongst them.

State by state by state. That’s how marriage equality has progressed and is progressing — through state courts, through state referenda, through state legislative actions. First, through the reliably liberal blue states (plus Iowa). Then, at some hitherto unknown date far, far into the future, into the red states.

In other words, Georgia’s gay or lesbian couples (all 21,318 of them) may be waiting a while for their weddings. Considering that 40 years after desegregation, a Georgia high school just had itsfirst racially integrated prom, there’s a precedent for patience.

Federalism. States’ rights. That’s what it’s about, ultimately. Just as the War of Northern Aggression was fought over the over-extension of presidential power and South Carolina’s right to not implement Northern trade tariffs. Just as Southern opposition to the Civil Rights movement was about protecting the autonomy and private-property rights of small businesses.

via DOMA 2013: 17 Years Later, Some Things Still Haven’t Changed.

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Delaware and Rhode Island legalize gay marriage; Minnesota set to follow by Saturday – baltimoresun.com

Six months after Maryland, Maine and Washington voters endorsed same-sex marriage at the ballot box, two more states have adopted laws allowing gay couples to marry, and a third is poised to join them. On Tuesday, lawmakers in Delaware adopted a same-sex marriage law, and Minnesota’s House of Representatives passed a marriage equality measure there today, setting up a final vote in the Senate on Monday. Last week the Rhode Island legislature adopted a similar measure. That three states have moved to legalize gay marriage over the span of less than a month shows how quickly public attitudes toward same-sex unions are changing. Still, more progress may be difficult until more Republicans start to see the issue as one of civil rights, equal protection under the law and individual liberty.

Polls show that nearly 60 percent of Americans now believe gay marriage should be legal, up from less than 40 percent only a decade ago. Among young people, about 8 in 10 think gay couples should be allowed to marry, a trend that clearly favors wider acceptance of such unions in the future. The evolution of public opinion on same-sex marriage is in line with a broader movement toward recognition of gay rights that has manifested itself over the last year in spheres as varied as the Boy Scouts, professional sports teams and the military.

The Supreme Court is currently considering two cases related to same-sex marriage, one that could establish it as a right under the Constitution and another that could overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, which bans federal recognition of same-sex marriages. During oral arguments, the justices signaled varying degrees of discomfort with making a sweeping ruling in either case, but as the political battle over rights for gays tilts toward equality in state after state, such caution appears increasingly out of touch.

Read more: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/editorial/bs-ed-gay-marriage-20130512,0,126562.story#ixzz2SzIe3fmF

via Delaware and Rhode Island legalize gay marriage; Minnesota set to follow by Saturday – baltimoresun.com.

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Employer Tax Considerations for Supreme Court’s Pending Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) Decision | The National Law Review

Implications

Currently, the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the Code), precludes same-sex spouses from receiving certain health benefits enjoyed by their opposite-sex counterparts on a tax-free basis. Consequently, employers must impute the value of employer-paid healthcare provided to an employee’s nondependent same-sex spouse as additional income to an employee. Employees are subject to payroll taxes on this imputed income, commonly referred to as Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes, at the current rate of 7.65%, as well as federal and state income taxes. Employers are also subject to corresponding FICA payroll tax costs associated with this imputed income, at the same current rate of 7.65%. If the U.S. Supreme Court holds that section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional, it would appear that same-sex spouses would be eligible for certain tax-free employer-paid health benefits and, as a result, employers may be entitled to a refund of their share of any FICA taxes paid and employees may be entitled to a refund of their share of both FICA taxes and income taxes.

Key Considerations

As April 15, 2013 is the deadline for filing a protective refund claim for 2009 calendar year taxpayers, employers may want to consider filing protective FICA tax-refund claims for all open payroll tax periods to cover the FICA taxes paid on this imputed income. While a ruling on the constitutionality of DOMA may not be issued until the end of June 2013, a protective refund claim simply preserves the right to a refund and extends the statute of limitations for a minimum of two years. Similar to FICA refund claims that have been filed for employers as a result of the United States v. Quality Stores, Inc. decision,[1] which held that severance payments paid to former employees pursuant to an involuntary reduction in force are not taxable “wages” for FICA tax purposes, the process for filing a protective claim is simple.

The decision to file for a refund will depend upon the extent to which an employer has had to impute income to employees with same-sex partners. In many instances, employers may have insufficient imputed income at issue to warrant spending the resources needed to file a FICA refund claim. Employers may also want to consider informing affected employees that they can file a protective refund claim for 2009

via Employer Tax Considerations for Supreme Court’s Pending Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) Decision | The National Law Review.

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DOMA: Unfair and outdated | www.ajc.com

By Jeff Graham

While the core value of the fight for marriage equality is about the right to marry the person you love, the legal commitments that come with this right are very real to the hundreds of thousands of loving couples who are currently being discriminated against under federal law. According to the General Accounting Office, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) restricts same-sex couples from accessing the benefits, rights and privileges housed in 1,138 federal statutory provisions.

To marry, a same-sex couple must travel to a state where it is legal — the closest of which, for Georgia couples, is Maryland, 700 miles away. If the couple lives in Georgia or any other state that doesn’t recognize marriage equality, they could spend up to $10,000 in legal fees to establish some of the rights that come with a civil marriage license.

Once the couple is married, discrimination continues. If an individual wants to add his or her same-sex spouse to their employer-provided health insurance plan, that additional coverage is not tax-exempt as it would be for an opposite-sex couple. Instead, these benefits are treated as though they were additional wages, adding a tax burden that averages more than $1,000 per couple per year.

via DOMA: Unfair and outdated | www.ajc.com.

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The Fate of DOMA and What’s at Stake With Employee Benefits – US News and World Report

Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) states, “In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.”

This 65-word paragraph is the eye of deliberation in Washington, D.C., where the Supreme Court is expected to rule on its constitutionality. The court’s ruling could impact lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) couples in the United States in ways heterosexuals may not have realized, such as changing how married same-sex couples receive employee benefits. Currently, nine states and the District of Columbia legally recognize same-sex marriage, plus there are other states that recognize what Todd Solomon, an employment benefits lawyer with the Chicago-based law firm McDermott Will & Emery LLP calls a “spousal equivalent:” a domestic partner or civil union. Couples in those states are still not recognized as married in some other jurisdictions, nor are they recognized as legally married by the federal government, which means they are currently only eligible for state rights that relate to married couples.

[See: The 25 Best Jobs of 2013.]

In addition to weighing in on the constitutionality of DOMA, the court is also expected to rule on the legality of Proposition 8, a state constitutional amendment that bans gay marriage in California. It’s the outcome of the DOMA case, however, that will create the most ripples: By overturning sections 2 and 3 of the act, the Supreme Court could spawn a floodgate of possibilities for same-sex married couples and make them eligible for more than 1,000 federal rights and benefits related to marriage.

Right now it’s guesswork to determine the full weight of the impending ruling on workplace benefits. Here are just three things at stake:

The Fate of DOMA and What’s at Stake With Employee Benefits – US News and World Report.

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