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Filed under: DOMA Repeal

Four states refuse military benefits for married same-sex couples

Four states are now blocking military benefits for same-sex married couples, even after a directive from the federal government to comply with the Supreme Court’s decision striking down Section 3 of DOMA in United States v. Windsor.

Continue 2 Comments September 18, 2013

Federal court strikes down law barring veterans in same-sex marriages from receiving spousal benefits

In a pair of decisions filed yesterday, federal district court judge Consuelo B. Marshall ruled in Cooper-Harris v. USA that the district court has authority to hear a constitutional challenge to statutes defining marriage as opposite-sex only for purposes of military benefits, and that sections of the statute, Title 38, are unconstitutional under equal protection principles.

Continue 1 Comment August 30, 2013

Equality news round-up: Questions over IRS guidance post-DOMA, and more

Utah state seal

- The Center for Constitutional Rights notes that the civil trial against anti-gay activist Scott Lively for aiding abd abetting crimes against humanity can go forward. EqualityOnTrial will have more on SMUG v. Lively in the coming days.

- Think Progress reports on a marriage equality lawsuit in Utah.

- The AP has a report on the plaintiff in one of the military-related challenges to Section 3 of DOMA, Carmen Cardona, who filed the lawsuit styled as Cardona v. Shinseki.

- Bloomberg News discusses taxes post-DOMA.

2 Comments August 16, 2013

Report: Constitutional ban on same-sex marriage stalled in Republican-led House of Representatives

By Scottie Thomaston

Capitol Hill
Capitol Hill

Last month, when the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act in United States v. Windsor, a Republican representative in the House introduced an amendment to the United States Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. Amendments have to pass by 2/3 in both houses of Congress and then 3/4 of the states. The marriage amendment has come up in different forms in the past, and has never passed Congress, although at the time Massachusetts was the only state with same-sex marriage. Now, there are 13, and a majority of Americans support marriage equality. The amendment seems to have no chance of passage at this point.

Now, Huffington Post is reporting that the latest proposal is ‘gathering dust’ in committee, with only 36 cosponsors:

When the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in late June, Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) didn’t waste any time filing legislation that would go around the court and ban same-sex marriage by amending the U.S. Constitution.

“This would trump the Supreme Court,” Huelskamp told The Huffington Post at the time. “The debate is not over.”

Since then, Huelskamp’s bill has picked up 36 cosponsors — all of whom are rank-and-file conservatives — and now awaits action in the House Judiciary Committee.

And that may be all you ever hear of the bill.

According to their story, Huffington Post contacted House leadership and various Republican House representatives, and “nobody seems to want to go near it[.]” House Speaker John Boehner has said he has no plans to take legislative action after the Court’s Windsor ruling.

There are no marriage equality cases awaiting Supreme Court review, though cases in Hawaii and Nevada are pending at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and a challenge to Michigan’s marriage equality ban is ongoing in district court. The Court ducked the question in the Prop 8 case, holding only that the ballot initiative’s proponents lacked legal standing to appeal from the district court when the state declined to appeal.

July 17, 2013

Sen. Boxer pushes for post-DOMA Social Security benefits fix

By Jacob CombsBarbara Boxer

In a letter dated yesterday, July 1, California Senator Barbara Boxer urged the Social Security Administration to extend survivor benefits for same-sex couples regardless of their state of residence.

With the invalidation of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, same-sex spouses are now eligible to obtain Social Security benefits, but current policy looks to where a couple lives to determine eligibility.  From Boxer’s letter to Carolyn Colvin, acting commissioner of the Social Security Administration:

All federal agencies should endeavor to provide swift and equal access to programs and benefits for all same-sex couples, regardless of their state of residence, using existing administrative authorities.  In instances where remedies are not available through executive action and will instead require specific changes to existing law, I urge you to notify Congress immediately so that the legislative process to address these issues can begin.

Post-DOMA, same-sex couples are now eligible for a host of federal benefits, most of which are based upon which state a couple was married in.  For the determination of these benefits, a couple that married in California and moved to Oregon would still be considered married and eligible for federal benefits based on this criterion.

Other benefits, like Social Security Survivor benefits, are by statute based upon where a couple lives, not where they were married.  In this light, that fictional California couple would lose benefits based on this determination when they moved to Oregon.

Like Boxer, LGBT advocates have exhorted the Obama administration to interpret the Supreme Court’s ruling broadly and enact any policy changes  to ensure same-sex couples enjoy the maximum scope of benefits possible regardless of where they live.  So far, the administration has done so, although some benefits determinations are based in law, which can only be modified by Congress.

The clearest legislative solution would be the Respect for Marriage Act, which was re-introduced last week by New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler and Boxer’s fellow California senator, Dianne Feinstein.  The bill would promise married same-sex couples all federal benefits, even if they live in non-marriage equality states.

During his recent trip to Africa, President Obama expressed a desire to alleviate the complexities of federal benefits law for same-sex couples:

“It’s my personal belief — but I’m speaking now as a president as opposed to as a lawyer — that if you’ve been married in Massachusetts and you move someplace else, you’re still married, and that under federal law you should be able to obtain the benefits of any lawfully married couple. But I’m speaking as a president, not a lawyer.”

After the jump, the full text of Boxer’s letter, via the Washington Blade: (more…)

2 Comments July 2, 2013

Equality news round-up: New marriage equality, DOMA polls, and more

By Scottie Thomaston Ohio state seal

- New Mexico’s attorney general is set to weigh in on his opinion on the legality of same-sex marriage in the state.

- Update on possible campaign to repeal Ohio’s marriage equality ban.

- Republicans in the House added an anti-gay amendment to this year’s National Defense Authorization Act.

- A new Pew survey finds that 72% of Americans believe same-sex marriage is inevitable.

- A poll on DOMA is less enthusiastic.

21 Comments June 6, 2013

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