Freshly back to work from maternity leave, it warmed my new-mommy/divorce-lawyer heart to see this week’s U.S. Supreme Court decision affirming a loving mother’s right to share in the ongoing care and custody of children she helped raise during a long-term same-sex relationship. While the opinion itself speaks much more to jurisdictional issues and the Full Faith & Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution than it does to gay rights, the V.L. v. E.L. case represents a significant victory for gay-rights advocates in Alabama, despite the best efforts of that state’s Chief Justice to ignore or outright defy social and legal developments advancing the rights of homosexual couples.… Keep reading
Gay Marriage and Divorce
With the announcement of last week’s Supreme Court decision, proponents of same sex marriage rejoiced and Facebook became much more colorful. After a weekend of celebrating the new-found rights of my gay and lesbian friends, neighbors and colleagues, I sat down today to read all 103 pages of the majority decision and dissenting opinions, including a particularly “colorful” dissent from Justice Scalia.
How did this issue get to the Supreme Court?… Keep reading
There have been rumors for months that the Supreme Court was going to make a final decision about how America will handle gay marriage.
As of today, I’m thrilled to report that gay marriage is now the law of the land!
For the couples around the country who have waited for years to make their unions legally official, for their children, for all of us who champion equality – this is so good on so many levels.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, author of today’s ruling legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States, said it best.
… Keep reading
No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than they once were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live
I hope you all are enjoying this gorgeous fall morning. I’ve been sneaking peaks at the SCOTUS law blog to see what was going to happen with all the pending gay marriage appeals. Today is the day the Supreme Court was going to announce the cases it will be hearing this year.
I’m happy to share that today the Supreme Court denied certiorari on ALL of the gay marriage cases. (That’s lawyer speak for “refused to hear.”) In effect this means that the lower court rulings, all of which allowed gay marriage, stand.
Nancy… Keep reading
Until I got online last night I hadn’t realized that we are ten years out from the Goodridge decision. I can still remember where I was when I read it back in 2003, and it was the only time I had ever cried (I was so moved by the language) when reading a decision. It wasn’t until last night that I realized Peter Zupcofska, my partner in the Private Client Group here, had written an amicus brief on behalf of Goodridge.
In the 10 years since Goodridge, gay marriage has become woven into the social fabric of Massachusetts. Initially due to DOMA, the legal process of both gay marriage and gay divorce was extremely complicated.
Over the course of time other states joined Massachusetts, some not allowing gay marriage but allowing gay divorce of couples legally married in another state.
This past June, DOMA was overturned by the Supreme Court. Since then, gay divorce, at least in Massachusetts and the other states that allow gay marriage/divorce has become simpler, cleaner and more straightforward.
My terrific tax colleague, Jen Green, has a quick update on taxes for same-sex married couples. This is terrific!
The IRS has issued a notice extending Revenue Ruling 58-66 to same-sex marriages. In Revenue Ruling 58-66, the IRS stated that a couple would be treated as married for purposes of Federal income tax filing if the couple entered into a common-law marriage in a state that recognizes that relationship as a valid marriage. The IRS further concluded in Revenue Ruling 58-66 that its position with respect to a common-law marriage also applies to a couple who entered into a common-law marriage in a state that recognized such relationships and who later moved to a state in which a ceremony is required to establish the marital relationship. In this new Revenue Ruling 2013-17, the IRS states that once a same-sex couple is validly married, that couple is deemed married for federal purposes no matter where they live.… Keep reading
What an exciting week! I’m pleased to share the following alert regarding DOMA that my colleagues Lisa Cukier, Christine Fletcher and Peter Zupcofska put together today for clients and friends of our firm. As we celebrate the fall of DOMA there are still lots of legal issues facing gay and lesbian couples in the states that don’t recognize gay marriage.
U.S. Supreme Court Declares DOMA Unconstitutional: What You Need to Know
Yesterday in a historic decision, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) by declaring it unconstitutional. In the case, United States v. Windsor, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples living in the states that recognize their marriage are entitled to receive the same federal benefits as any other married couple in those states.This important ruling has myriad implications and touches upon many areas of law affecting same-sex couples across the country. For example, estate plans for same-sex couples were previously drafted to take advantage of benefits available within the 13 states and the District of Columbia that recognize same-sex marriage; nevertheless, estate plans had to be drafted around DOMA, which denied … Keep reading
Today the Supreme Court of the Unites States struck down the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The ruling will make a huge difference for gay couples in states where same-sex is legal, but all states will still retain their right to regulate marriage laws.
My colleagues and I are monitoring the coverage of today’s exciting ruling. Stay tuned!
Nancy… Keep reading
This week had two days of arguments on gay marriage at the Supreme Court. The first case dealt with a challenge to the California law known as Prop. 8, which overturned the California Supreme Court’s allowance of gay marriage.
The second case was of more interest to us here in Massachusetts as it dealt with the potential overturning of DOMA, which is the Federal Defense of Marriage Act. Enacted in 1996 and signed into law by President Clinton, DOMA defines marriage as between a man and a woman. As a result, in those states like Massachusetts where gay marriage is legal (and might I add the world did not end), gays who are married do not have the same federal benefits that heterosexual married couples do. This means that gay married couples cannot file joint federal tax returns, they are denied key benefits in the military, and they lose all sorts of deductions and benefits such as survivor’s rights to Social Security benefits. When gay couples divorce they are taxed on many things at the federal level that heterosexual couples are not taxed on. Additionally, divorcing gays cannot transfer pensions without tax consequences, there can be … Keep reading
The Supreme Court announces today whether or not they are going to take up a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act in a case arising out of Social Security benefits. As promised, here is a different point of view to last week’s post. This one is authored by my partner Lisa Cukier, one of our experts in the intricacies of gay and lesbian divorce.
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which was passed in 1996, denies federal benefits to married same-sex couples. DOMA denies the existence of same-sex marriages by stating that marriages may only be between one man and one woman. Consequently, the federal government is allowed to deny gay spouses certain marriage-based advantages that straight spouses routinely and unquestionably receive, such as tax advantages, health and retirement benefits, Veteran’s benefits, Social Security Administration benefits and other federally based advantages, thus treating gay married Americans as second class citizens.
Social Security benefits, such as survivor’s benefits that permit a widow to receive her deceased spouse’s Social Security after her spouse’s death, are one such federal benefit. Gay widows and widowers are ineligible for their late spouse’s Social Security simply because they … Keep reading