same sex marriage

Defense of Marriage Act and Social Security

Hi there,

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

Hi there,

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