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Screwed over by DOMA? We want to know about it

DOMA Repeal

By Adam Bink

One of the biggest uses of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the Respect for Marriage Act will be media coverage and education. I spend a lot of time explaining to family, friends, and colleagues what DOMA is and the specific harms it causes. Polling shows when the public is educated about DOMA, they oppose it, so this serves as another way to spread the word and raise awareness.

To that end, we get often calls here at the Courage Campaign from the media asking if we know this or that person or couple around a specific “moment.” We saw that with Ed and Derence, and Shane Mayer/John Quintana in San Francisco around the California Supreme Court’s decision to wait months before looking at the issue of standing — the media used them as “human interest stories.”

To that end, below is a note we sent out to some Courage members today, looking for those stories so we have them in hand. If you, or someone you know, has a DOMA horror story, so to speak, please click here to tell us what it is. If the media calls looking for a story like yours, one of us here at Courage will be in touch, and your story could appear in local or national media like Ed and Derence’s. We can then use it to educate the public, together.

Thanks for telling your story!

Courage Campaign

Dear Adam,

We just learned that any day now, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Sen. Feinstein’s Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA). The media spotlight will be on, and this will be our best chance in a long time to educate the public on what DOMA is, how it’s hurting families, and why it has to go.

Whenever there are hearings like this, media outlets often call us here at the Courage Campaign looking for a human interest angle; a story to make DOMA compelling. And we want that angle to be YOU.

Have you, or someone you know, been screwed over by DOMA in some way? Click here to tell your story.

We have momentum, Adam. Thanks to efforts of Courage members like you, we picked up the 10 votes we need on the Judiciary Committee to pass this bill, including every Democrat. We’re up to 29 Senators on board and our nationwide field network is working on more.

This hearing will make headlines around the country. From local newspapers (maybe yours!) to national TV and radio, the media will look for stories that articulate the damage DOMA is causing to same-sex couples. Stories of bi-national couples torn apart because they can’t get a visa the way straight couples can; of couples paying thousands of dollars in extra taxes because they can’t file jointly; of Social Security, disability, or veterans’ issues related to DOMA — or even divorce. And that’s what we do here at the Courage Campaign: storytelling.

Can you tell your story, or that of someone you know, so we can point to families who need the Respect for Marriage Act to become law? Click here to get started.

Thanks for all you do,

– Rick, Adam, Arisha, Caitlin, Anthony, Phyllis and the rest of the team at the Courage Campaign


Chip in today to continue our work on DOMA.

27 Comments

  • 1. Alan_Eckert  |  July 12, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    I lost an immediate $1000 the moment I started doing my taxes. I also get taxed for my health benefits for my husband. Nothing major, but it still sucks.

  • 2. Sagesse  |  July 12, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    New York town clerk quits over gay marriage licenses
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/07/12/us-gaym

  • 3. Sagesse  |  July 12, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    Same-sex marriage again an issue for religious charities
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/under-god/pos

  • 4. JonT  |  July 12, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    Good!
    :)

  • 5. Sagesse  |  July 12, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    O’Malley considering next steps on same-sex marriage
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/maryland-poli

  • 6. Lee  |  July 12, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    Has anyone NOT been screwed over by DOMA? Is there any story that is NOT a horror story?

  • 7. Sagesse  |  July 12, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    Church supports rights of LGBT parents and their children
    http://www.keennewsservice.com/2011/07/12/church-

  • 8. sneaks911  |  July 12, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    No VA benefits for my wife, even though, if she were male she'd have them.

  • 9. justjoel59  |  July 12, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    I think every GLBT couple that is legally married is getting screwed. Bi-national couples top the list, couples with children come in right behind. All of us who are or have been unfairly taxed is probably at the bottom of the list emotionally, but at the near-top legally and affecting ALL legally married couples. Right now, we're trying to get state assistance, but NV wants it both ways. So does the Social Security Administration. "Well, you are married, but you're not, but for this purpose you are."

  • 10. _BK_  |  July 12, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    Can't say I'm disappointed… 'cause I'm not. :)

  • 11. AnonyGrl  |  July 12, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    From the article:
    These local fights are microcosms of a broader, national issue: How to reconcile civil rights (the rights of same-sex couples) with those of religious liberty (the rights of religious conservatives to discriminate on the basis of their religious beliefs).

    There IS no "right of religious conservatives to discriminate". End of debate.

    Religious liberty means that an individual can practice their own religion THEMSELVES and their churches can, when performing religious functions, do whatever they please (well, no human sacrifice… but you get the drift). It does not mean they can force it on others, nor does it mean that they can break the law. The law is clear that religious SACRAMENTS are protected. But a church that hires both straight and gay people to work at its non-religious social service agencies cannot give health benefits to married straight people and deny them to married gay people.

  • 12. Drpatrick1  |  July 12, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    I've shared parts of my story at different times on this site. My partner is FTM. I am an OB/GYN, and thus gainfully employed and was making a salary sufficient to cover my families needs, including health insurance, if we were treated equally to other families. Instead, as a federal employee, he was not allowed to be added to my insurance policy. When he became pregnant with our twins, he needed to go on medicaid because we couldn't get insurance for him, even though I'm a doctor!!! The state investigated why he needed medicaid, and couldn't understand why we couldn't marry and get him insurance. In the end, they allowed the medicaid, but not after disclosing his transgendered status to my employer, and several of my coworkers during their "investigation". They won't allow our marriage because we are both men (Legally, and in any way that could matter to us or the government). HOWEVER, we were even uniquely situated to reproduce "naturally" or "spontaneously". I understand our situation is rather rare, but what interest does the government have in denying rights to it's citizens!

  • 13. xjt  |  July 12, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    I agree with the commenter who said that we're all getting screwed by DOMA. I am completely vulnerable to financial catastrophe (social security) in my old age if my higher earning partner dies before DOMA is repealed, as are many older gay and lesbian couples.

  • 14. Erkhyan  |  July 13, 2011 at 12:30 am

    Well, my signature down there should say something.

    We have been unable to find an employer willing to help me get a visa, and a student visa is just way beyond our financial means. We cannot afford constant flights to the other side of the world and back. I also don't want to risk the huge emotional toll of getting a tourist visa and willingly overstaying it as an alternative… I've already been there, if involuntarily, and was lucky the first time (the French administration deported me but did not ban me from reentering legally if I wished to, due to being a minor at the time).

    Anyway, thanks to DOMA, my only realistic chance at getting a visa is the Green Card Lottery… Ever tried to bet your future on a gamble with low and ever-shrinking chances of winning?

    – Franck P. Rabeson
    Days spent apart from my fiancé because of DOMA: 1482 days, as of today.

  • 15. Kalbo  |  July 13, 2011 at 2:54 am

    Here's what I submitted on the site:
    As a binational couple, we are facing daunting obstacles to be together. Any other couple is able to sponsor their loved one to join them in America, the "Land of the Free", but DOMA specifically prohibits same-sex couples from doing likewise. I am American. I was grew up in Oklahoma and now reside in Hawaii. My fiance is Filipino. The past 3 years have been extremely difficult, both financially and emotionally. There is simply no just reason to impose such hardships on loving couples. We are missing out on all of the special moments together — holidays, birthdays, anniversaries — and the typical moments couples share, such as watching a movie, enjoying a dinner, or having a morning coffee. Every day that goes by can never be regained. When one of us is sick, the other is helpless to assist. He had to have an emergency appendectomy in 2009. Imagine not being able to be there for your significant other. The time we do spend together is short, and we both know I must go back, which is constantly weighing on our mind. The moment we must split at the airport is absolute devastation. And why? Why is our chance at sharing our lives together denied? This is wrong, and the toll is terrible.

  • 16. PBJ  |  July 13, 2011 at 3:15 am

    Even those of us living in states without marriage equality (f*** you, california) are getting screwed over by DOMA, since Section 2 also (in violation of "full faith and credit") prevents us from marrying elsewhere and having that marriage recognized when we cross state borders… which also gives the federal government a basis for refusing to recognize that marriage.

  • 17. grod  |  July 13, 2011 at 4:20 am

    @AnonyGrl ·
    Particularly so while receiving tax dollars in doing so. G

  • 18. Ronnie  |  July 13, 2011 at 5:23 am

    Awe……….. XP …Ronnie

  • 19. Frustrated  |  July 13, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    Due to the circumstances of our situation, we have been too afraid to open up much, but here it goes: I've been living with my boyfriend of 6 years (we got together right out of high school). I can't even begin to explain how important and special our relationship has been to both of us, and while being a fairly young couple, we know that we are going to be with each other for the rest of our lives. Living in an extremely homophobic state (Utah) has been difficult, and while we have seen friends go through the psychological harm that it is to live under so much pressure, we have both been able to strengthen each other and protect each other. We are now engaged, and more than ready to commit to spend the rest of our lives together, but even if we where to move out of this state (which we don't, our families, friends and lives are all here) to get married, it wouldn't do anything for us. My partner was born in another country and came here while being young, but due to tough immigration law, he was never able (believe me, he tried) to become a permanent resident. We don't want to destroy our lives by living in two separate countries, or have to leave the life that we've built together here to move somewhere where we don't know anybody. If DOMA wasn't present, we could have gotten married and like straight couples get to, I'd be able to sponsor him, Our standard of living has been extremely affected by this, he is a college graduate and is qualified to be able to get a great job but isn't capable because of his status. We are both fairly young and ready to go out and do something with our lives but we feel that our life is at a stand still until something can be done with this. This issue affects binational couples of all ages, it stops partners form being able to take care of each other when they are older, and it stops young couples from being able to start their lives and families together. Living like this is something we can't do for much longer, and it is wrong to deny us the happiness that we deserve over something as trivial as our gender. Can't they see just how much they are destroying lives and denying basic rights like my right to be with the one that keeps me going, the one I love, and how unconstitutional and un-American that is?

  • 20. Ann S.  |  July 13, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story. I hope DOMA goes away, and very soon! Best wishes to you both, and all the other people being hurt by DOMA.

  • 21. Dr. Brent Zenobia  |  July 13, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    My husband and I were married in Multnomah County OR on March 3, 2004. After the Supreme Court of Oregon invalidated our marriage in 2005 we remarried in Victoria BC, on June 1, 2005. On Valentine's Day 2008 we registered as an "everything but marriage" domestic partnership.

    The State of Oregon requires us to file two sets of federal income tax returns: a "real" set that we submit to the IRS, and an "as if" return that we submit to Oregon representing what we would pay if the IRS recognized our marriage.

    My husband is a writer, and I am an IT manager. There is a significant disparity in our incomes. As of this year, we have paid over $20,000 extra taxes to the IRS as a direct consequence of DOMA. After the DOJ declined to appeal the recent bankruptcy judgement in California, we are considering submitting an adjusted set of tax return to reclaim some of this amount. It represents about 20% of our gross adjusted income.

  • 22. Str8Grandmother  |  July 14, 2011 at 6:46 am

    Thank you for contributing. You have related a rather fascinating and remarkable story. If I may say, you sure have been through a lot of sh*t for no good reason. I am sure when coming home every night to your twins, it feels worth it though.

  • 23. Str8Grandmother  |  July 14, 2011 at 6:52 am

    Your entry made me cry

  • 24. Str8Grandmother  |  July 14, 2011 at 6:57 am

    Yes DOMA is very cruel to bi-national couples, very cruel. I am sorry for your government treating you this way.

  • 25. Richard  |  July 14, 2011 at 11:50 am

    Yup, got screwed. Because of DOMA the IRS does not recognize us as married BUT we must file jointly. How screwed up is that, because of this, on paper (and on paper only) I made more money last year and lost my Ryan White Funding. Now I cannot afford to get blood work done and therefore can not track my HIV property let alone the cost of going to the doctors with no insurance……but that is another monster story all of its own

  • 26. DrPatrick1  |  July 14, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    Thank you for your comment. I love my family. We also have a 4 year old who was adopted, and together, we are a wonderful family. I can't wait for our country to end the discrimination!

  • 27. Eric  |  July 18, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    My husband and I are California residents, we were very excited to hear that the IRS decided to finally comply with established property law and recognize our community property interests. Unfortunately, it has turned into a disaster.

    We refiled our 2008 and 2009 taxes and incurred over $7,000 in penalties for money the IRS already had. I had minimal income in 2008 and no income in 2009, before the community property income splitting. Because of DOMA, we can't file jointly, nor talk with the IRS about each other's accounts.

    If the federal government recognized our valid California marriage, we could have simply refiled jointly and received thousands of dollars in refunds.

    Instead, my husband ended up with a large credit on his account, which took over six months for them to credit to my account, and the IRS fined me for failure to pay taxes on my half of the income.

    The IRS even sent a levy notice to my employer.

    We ended up having to borrow $40,000 to pay the "owed tax" and "penalties". We filed our returns in November 2010 and we are still on the phone with the IRS for hours at a time and have had to pay hundreds of dollars to our accountant to resolve this mess. We don't expect a resolution or the refunds we are due for another six months.

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