Evan Wolfson: Tax day’s here, time to dump DOMA

As posted by Evan Wolfson on Advocate.com:

"...This year same-sex couples will file joint tax returns in more states than ever before: in the five states where gay couples have the freedom to marry as well as in a handful of other jurisdictions that provide some relationship recognition, including California, Oregon, and New Jersey. This is cause for celebration — and a demonstration of the important progress we’ve made in the marriage movement. However, because of the federal discrimination enacted under the so-called Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, no same-sex couple will be permitted to file their taxes with the IRS as what they are: married. DOMA harshly excludes same-sex couples from the more than a thousand federal responsibilities and protections of marriage and from the common practice and expectation that a valid marriage in one state is generally recognized by others.

"In an October 2009 article on 'The High Price of Being a Gay Couple,'TheNew York Times investigated the financial burdens that exclusion from marriage imposes exclusively on same-sex couples. The Times estimated that for a same-sex couple with two children and an annual income of $140,000 a year, the added lifetime cost of being gay ranges from $41,196 to a staggering $467,562. The bulk of these costs are a result of being denied marriage — and the Social Security, income tax, and estate tax treatment that come with it. The Times concluded, 'Nearly all the extra costs that gay couples face would be erased if the federal government legalized same-sex marriage.'

"...The White House and the Department of Justice have conceded that DOMA is a discriminatory policy and should be repealed. And a number of challenges to the federal antimarriage law are making their way through the courts, including cases brought by the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders and by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. But Congress also has the authority to repeal this infamous law and should heed President Obama’s call to dump DOMA and end federal marriage discrimination now.

"In September 2009 the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal DOMA, was introduced in the House of Representatives, and it  already has more than 100 cosponsors. Freedom to Marry is committed to building support for the bill — and we need your help. Together we can make tax day an opportunity to educate our friends, neighbors, and lawmakers about how marriage discrimination harms same-sex couples and their families. Visit Freedom to Marry’s online Action Center to contact your lawmakers today and tell them how DOMA hurts gay couples, their families, states like Massachusetts, and our country’s basic fairness. It’s time to end federal marriage discrimination and make tax day a little less painful — and a whole lot fairer — for more families."

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