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.
Currently gay marriage is also in the gossip news as the Cheney family seems to be enmeshed … 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
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
An important date in the DOMA battle is coming up soon. On November 30, the Supreme Court will announce whether it will be taking up the matter in its next term. In light of that, there is considerable discussion of what gay and lesbian married couples should do to maximize their rights should DOMA be struck down. This week my Burns & Levinson partner, Evelyn Haralampu, has a piece on DOMA and Social Security benefits. Next week, our colleague Lisa Cukier will share an alternative view on the subject.
Keep reading below.
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which was passed in 1996 under the Clinton administration, denies federal benefits to married, same-sex couples. Because DOMA does not recognize same-sex marriage, no federal benefits based on marriage (such as Social Security survivor benefits, joint federal income tax filing, etc.) are available to same-sex, married couples.
A number of federal courts have found DOMA unconstitutional. In February of this year, the Obama administration ordered the Justice Department to stop defending the constitutionality of the law. However, for state law purposes, 32 states do not recognize same-sex marriages. The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to decide … Keep reading
Coming up this Thursday is the oral argument before the Federal Court in the GLAD challenge to the Federal Defense of Marriage Act.
I am someone who is strongly (fervently) in favor of gay marriage. Single sex adoption has been around for a long time and I had thought that the successful challenge for gay marriage would come when someone argued that the adoptive children of gay parents had a right to have their parents be able to marry.
The Goodridge Case was to me, a fair and necessary decision AND the only court decision I ever read that made me teary-eyed. As a practitioner, I have been dealing with the unequal results of the interface between the Federal and State law ever since. It is clearly a major issue in other states too.
The Commonwealth also has a challenge to DOMA winding its way through the Federal Court system.
I am keeping my fingers crossed!
Update (5.06.10) – Learn more about the DOMA hearing in an article I was quoted in this morning.… Keep reading
Since we learned yesterday that Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley is filing a law suit against the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), speculations have been flying about what this means and what will happen. The lawsuit questions the constitutionality of Section 3 of the law, which defines the word "marriage" as "a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife."
We just celebrated the 5 year anniversary of allowing same-sex marriage in Massachusetts. Since then, at least 4 other states (Maine, Vermont, Connecticut and Iowa) have legalized gay marriage. Even though gay marriage is recognized in these states, it is still not recognized at the federal level. This causes problems on many levels – taxes and adoption of children to name just two. According to the Boston Globe, “The suit filed in US District Court in Boston claims that the Congress, in enacting the DOMA, ‘overstepped its authority, undermined states’ efforts to recognize marriages between same-sex couples, and codified an animus towards gay and lesbian people.’”
Gay and lesbian married couples struggle with very different tax treatment as the federal government, the main taxing authority, doesn’t recognize gay marriage due … Keep reading
It is exciting to see the New England states recognizing the fairness of allowing gay folks to marry. It is a huge step and where people can marry they also inevitably will pay taxes and some of them will later divorce. In these areas much inequity still remains.
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) impacts the income tax and divorce tax status of gay couples regardless of whether or not they are legally married.
They cannot file federal income taxes as married filing jointly; when, and if, they divorce any transfers of property between them are taxable events, as they are not for heterosexual couples, and there is no deduction for alimony.
All of these are costly, but still it is terrific to have another state recognize gay marriage.
Nancy… Keep reading