Ohio has a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage; James Obergefell and John Arthur have been together for two decades and got married earlier this month in Maryland because Arthur has Lou Gehrig’s disease, and is expected to die within weeks.
U.S. District judge Timothy Black issued a temporary restraining order Monday, recognizing Obergefell as Arthur’s spouse, and suggested that failing to recognize the couple’s out-of-state union violated their rights to equal protection under the U.S. Constitution.
“This is not a complicated case,” Black wrote. “The issue is whether the State of Ohio can discriminate against same sex marriages lawfully solemnized out of state, when Ohio law has historically and unambiguously provided that the validity of a marriage is determined by whether it complies with the law of the jurisdiction where it was celebrated.”
While the ruling is temporary and limited to Obergefell and Arthur, the case could ultimately have broader implications. The court will hold a more extensive briefing on the issue in the future, noted Camilla Taylor, Lambda Legal’s marriage project director, and any final ruling could be appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court.
“This is particularly tragic and compelling case and it shows to all of us in the country, not just those of us who are gay or those of us who are in the judiciary, but to all Americans, the degree of commitment shown by many gay couples and their desire to take care of each other in the worst time of life that any of us can imagine,” Taylor said.
The case not only sends a powerful message, Taylor said, but she said Black’s “reasoning is sound” and could form the basis for a broader challenge to state bans on same-sex marriage: “This decision foreshadows what will happen to marriage bans across the country.”
In practical terms, the ruling will allow Obergefell’s name to be added to the death certificate as Arthur’s surviving spouse, give him access to federal and state benefits, and allow him to be buried next to Arthur in his family cemetery where the plot is restricted to direct descendants and spouses.
“This is yet another example of an activist federal judge substituting his views for those of the people. The people of Ohio have determined through overwhelmingly enacting their state marriage amendment that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, and the federal government must respect that decision,” said Frank Schubert, national political director for the National Organization for Marriage.
During the runup to the Supreme Court’s June 26 ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act, one number kept recurring: The government’s refusal to recognize same-sex marriages meant gay couples were denied more than 1,000 federal benefits that straight couples enjoy. Now that the justices have struck down DOMA, gays can look forward to equality under U.S. tax laws. That is, just as soon as the Internal Revenue Service can figure out how to make equality happen. The tax agency has promised to “move swiftly” to recognize gay unions, but for many couples it won’t be as simple as checking the “married” box on their 1040.
Those living in Washington, D.C., or the 13 states that allow same-sex marriages can file a federal tax return next April just like other married couples. Not so for the thousands of gay couples who took their vows in one of those states but who live in one of the 37 others where same-sex marriage isn’t recognized. It’s not yet clear whose definition of marriage the IRS is supposed to follow in evaluating their taxes—the state where the couple got married, or the one in which they reside. And will the federal government recognize gay couples in civil unions who file a joint return?
To avoid confusion, a single nationwide rule makes the most sense, says Patricia Cain, a tax law professor at Santa Clara University in California. “The IRS has the power to construe the Internal Revenue Code,” she says. “So for them it’s, ‘What does the word spouse mean?’ ” President Obama has weighed in, saying it’s his “personal belief” that same-sex couples should get the same federal benefits as married couples regardless of where they live. He’s asked federal agencies to research legal issues that might stand in the way. Such a ruling, though, could cause headaches for the IRS, which until now has typically followed states’ definitions of marriage, says David Herzig, a tax law professor at Valparaiso University. “You may solve this problem,” he says, “but you may open up another.”
Many gay couples might not like what marriage equality looks like on a tax form. Until now, they’ve been able to take advantage of their separate status to maximize tax savings—claiming multiple capital-loss deductions unavailable to opposite-sex married couples or multiple tax credits for adopting children. Straight married spouses with roughly equal incomes typically pay a marriage penalty under the tax code, because more of their income is subject to higher marginal tax rates. Gay couples would get hit with the same penalty. And unless the IRS exempts them from paying back taxes, some same-sex married couples could owe penalties for underwithholding during the time they’ve been married, even though the federal government didn’t recognize their unions until now.
On the other hand, gay couples with unequal incomes would get the same marriage bonus as straight couples and could seek a refund for the extra taxes they paid in recent years. Typically the IRS allows taxpayers three years to redo their tax returns. “One of the biggest issues is what to do retroactively,” says Elda Di Re, a partner at Ernst & Young in New York. “One would think that the IRS will allow there to be filing refunds—but not mandate filing to pay additional tax.”
Another potential mess: what to do about payroll taxes workers paid on employer-provided health insurance for their same-sex spouses, which isn’t taxable for married couples. The IRS could allow refunds, and then businesses would have to figure out how to distribute them to employees and ex-employees. Some companies pay married gay employees extra to cover their health-care tax burdens; they would have to decide whether to seek reimbursements from workers who get income tax refunds. And the IRS has to figure out whether or how to tax alimony payments from gay marriages that end in divorce, and money inherited from the retirement account of a same-sex spouse.
All these decisions will be made with a skeptical—and sometimes hostile—Congress ready to call foul. The IRS is already under scrutiny for its clumsy probes of political groups, and its efforts to formalize gay marriage in the tax code are likely to provoke congressional hearings and lawsuits. “No matter what they do,” says Herzig, “it’s such a volatile issue they’ll end up getting a challenge.”
The bottom line: The IRS, which usually follows states’ definitions of marriage, must find a way to give gay couples nationwide equal treatment.
Rubin is a reporter for Bloomberg News in Washington.
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
July 16, 2013 1:43 pm
Gay marriage supporters are launching a $2 million statewide campaign to approve same-sex marriage in Illinois.
Illinois Unites for Marriage is a coalition representing gay rights, civil rights and political groups.
In a statement Tuesday, the group says it will place 15 field organizers throughout the state to engage supporters. They plan to target legislators who oppose a measure to lift Illinois' ban on same-sex marriage.
The Illinois Senate passed the bill in February. It wasn't called for a vote in the House because the bill's sponsor said it didn't have the votes to pass.
Jim Bennett is chairman of the coalition. He says the next few months are critical because lawmakers could take up the bill in the fall.
Opponents say marriage should be between a man and woman.
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: July 15, 2013
The California Supreme Court refused Monday to order the state to immediately stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The court denied a request made by backers of Proposition 8, a voter-approved ban on gay marriages, for an emergency order that would have required the state to keep enforcing it while they pursue a legal effort to preserve it. The United States Supreme Court in June dismissed the backers’ appeal of a ruling that found the ban unconstitutional, saying the backers lacked authority to defend Proposition 8 after the governor and attorney general refused to do so. The State Supreme Court will still consider whether the lower court ruling against the ban applied only in Los Angeles and Alameda Counties, where two couples who sued to strike down the ban live.
Pennsylvania’s attorney general, Kathleen Kane, said on Thursday that she would not defend the state against a lawsuit to overturn a ban on same-sex marriage.
Ms. Kane, a Democrat, traveled from Harrisburg, where the suit was filed in Federal District Court on Tuesday, to make her announcement at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. She quoted from Pennsylvania’s Constitution forbidding discrimination “against any person” and said that “disparate treatment” based on race, religion and ethnic origin were no longer tolerated, and “it is now the time here in Pennsylvania to end another wave of discrimination.”
The lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union with 23 plaintiffs, including 10 gay and lesbian couples, two teenage children of one couple and a widow who lost her partner of 29 years, cites a ruling last month by the Supreme Court striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
It was the first of a wave of lawsuits that activists are planning to file to expand the number of states allowing same-sex marriage, including in Virginia and North Carolina.
Attorneys general in Illinois and California have previously declined to defend their states in similar cases. In Pennsylvania, the general counsel’s office of Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, was seen as likely to pick up the defense.
Ms. Kane, who was elected attorney general last year and has been mentioned as a possible future candidate for governor, struck a political note in her brief announcement to an audience that cheered and applauded her decision.
“I looked at it this way, the governor’s going to be O.K.,” she said. She wondered, she added, who would represent “the Daves and Robbies, who represents the Emilys and Amys?”
You’re a best-selling author. Your beloved sci-fi novel that’s been a fan favorite for decades is about to come to the silver screen. You can expect more fame, adulation, money, right? Wait just a second! You dared to speak out against gay marriage? Welcome to the new blacklist.
Orson Scott Card, author of the popular sci-fi fantasy “Ender’s Game,” which was just made into a film set to release this fall, is coming under fire from the left for his pro-traditional-marriage views. According to Huffington Post, an “online protest” broke out to blacklist the new movie based on Card’s book because of his conservative views and opposition to the gay agenda. As HuffPo reported, LGBT activists are taking aim at Card for his “controversial” “anti-gay stance.”
The LGBT group Geeks OUT is spearheading a boycott of the movie called “Skip Ender’s Game.” According to the official website the group wants to “send a clear and serious message to Card” because of his “anti-gay activism – whatever he’s selling, we’re not buying.”
“Do not buy a ticket at the theater,” urged the Geeks OUT group, “do not purchase the DVD, do not watch it on-demand. Ignore all merchandise and toys.” The site went on to insist that the “queer geek community” wants to keep its money away from Card because of his supposed “fear-mongering and religious bullying.”
Card previously ruffled liberal feathers because of his uncompromising stance on gay marriage, and this is certainly not the first time he’s come under fire for it. But despite backlash, Card remained a steadfast supporter of traditional marriage. He joined the board of directors of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) in 2009 and frequently wrote articles opposing homosexual “marriage.” In response to the boycott, Card suggested that he’s interested to see whether “proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them.”
Alliance Defending Freedom and the Pacific Justice Institute have filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court that asks the court to review the case of a University of Toledo employee fired simply because she wrote an opinion column in her own personal name with a viewpoint that university officials didn’t like.
The university fired Crystal Dixon, who works in the school’s Human Resources department, after she wrote a short op-ed responding to a local newspaper’s editorial that compared the efforts of homosexual activists to the black civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s. As an African-American, Dixon respectfully disagreed with the paper’s editorial. She did not mention her job at the university.
“Universities should be the marketplace of ideas, not environments where officials dictate conformity to their own views even outside of the campus,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel David Hacker. “Seventy years of legal precedent make it clear that government officials have no authority to rob public employees of their First Amendment freedom of speech outside of work on a non-work-related matter.”
“University officials cannot mandate that all employees, in their personal capacities, have the same opinion as they do. This much is extremely clear in First Amendment law,” added Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot.
After the paper published Dixon’s column, the university wrote its own in opposition to Dixon’s point of view and then terminated her employment.
In 2006, the Supreme Court wrote, “It is well settled that ‘a State cannot condition public employment on a basis that infringes the employee’s constitutionally protected interest in freedom of expression.’” In a different case in 1995, the high court also wrote, “Even though respondents work for the Government, they have not relinquished ‘the First Amendment rights they would otherwise enjoy as citizens to comment on matters of public interest.’”
The brief filed with the Supreme Court in Dixon v. University of Toledo explains that the university “fired Dixon for writing the op-ed, because they deemed it not in ‘accord’ with the ‘values’ of the University of Toledo. They ignored that she wrote as a citizen and it was the university who publicly exposed her as an employee. In [the university’s] view, any public disagreement with the university’s values, even though those values were neither the subject of the original editorial nor Dixon’s op-ed, warranted Dixon’s dismissal from employment.”
When Dixon sued over her termination, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit rejected her First Amendment claim because she was a public employee.
“In doing so, the Sixth Circuit ignored seventy years of precedent establishing that if ‘there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein,’” states the brief, which was filed together with Kevin Snider, chief counsel of Pacific Justice Institute and one of nearly 2,300 allied attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom.
Pre-marital and casual sex have, in many ways, become societal norms. When young people take abstinence pledges, they are seemingly in a minority. As unrestricted sex becomes more prominent or, at the least, more accepted, many argue that its effects are nothing to worry about.
“Times have changed” and “It’s no big deal” are familiar mantras. But a new study may call these dismissals into question, as it found that casual sex may lead to depression and anxiety among college students.
Published in “The Journal of Sex Research,” the study, entitled, “Risky Business: Is There an Association Between Casual Sex and Mental Health Among Emerging Adults?,” found that students who have had casual sex had higher levels of social and general anxiety and depression,reports Science Daily. It was led by Dr. Melina M. Bersamin of California State University, Sacramento.
For the purposes of the study, “casual sex” was defined as having sex with someone that a respondent had known for less than a week. The online survey included 3,907 heterosexual students, ages 18 to 25, from over 30 schools across the U.S. About 11 percent of students reported having such an encounter the month before the survey (and the majority were men).
“For emerging-adult college students, engaging in casual sex may elevate risk for negative psychological outcomes.” the abstract for the study proclaims.
While one research endeavor isn’t the end all, be all, Bersamin claims that the results show that “casual sex was negatively associated with well-being and positively associated with psychological distress.” There were no disparities in gender when it came to the impact of casual sex.
Considering that society continues to loosen up in this arena, the potential results and impact are essential to consider.
Some are angry, others are philosophical, but opponents of same-sex marriage agree on one thing: The battle against gay marriage just got tougher, after twin losses in the Supreme Court that have given pro-gay-marriage forces a burst of momentum.
But social conservatives are ready to press on in the states, in defense of a religiously based definition of marriage that has endured for millennia, even if they don’t expect much help from the Republican establishment.
“The mix of decisions magnifies the fact that people who believe in normal marriage need to fight like crazy at the state level to ensure that they keep the right to define what they want marriage to be in their state,” says Gary Bauer, leader of the group American Values and one-time Republican presidential candidate.
Keeping the traditional-marriage-only wing of the GOP from becoming demoralized will be part of the battle. But after Wednesday’s rulings – which struck down a key part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act and opened the door to a resumption of gay marriages in California – conservative leaders expressed hope that their supporters would be all the more motivated to keep fighting.
Some leaders took a glass-half-full approach to the decisions, applauding the justices for, at least, not establishing a national right to same-sex marriage as the high court did for abortion in the 1973 ruling Roe v. Wade. That, they say, gives them time to get organized and rally their troops, even if, by outward appearances, time is not on their side.
Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council (FRC) in Washington, asserts that, in fact, time is not on the side of those seeking to create a right to same-sex marriage.
“As the American people are given time to experience the actual consequences of redefining marriage, the public debate and opposition to the redefinition of natural marriage will undoubtedly intensify,” Mr. Perkins says.
His ally Ralph Reed, head of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, calls for pressure on Congress to pass legislation that will limit the impact of the DOMA ruling. And he goes back to a core focus of religious conservatives -- the selection of judges.
The Supreme Court’s decisions “underscore why people of faith must remain engaged and energetic in seeing genuine conservatives nominated and confirmed to the federal courts,” says Mr. Reed. That requires electing conservative senators who will make judicial confirmation battles a priority.
But especially alarming to some Christian conservative leaders is the culture war within the GOP that makes them feel that party leaders – both in Congress and at the Republican National Committee (RNC) – are abandoning them.
“I would say to Speaker Boehner and [Senate Republican leader] Mitch McConnell and the folks at the RNC, you better wake up soon, because if values voters decide that their investment in the GOP resulted in less than a zero return, the party will find itself without the only group that is saving it from political oblivion,” says Mr. Bauer.
Republican leaders need to spend as much time defending traditional marriage and other conservative values as much as they make the case for not raising taxes on billionaires and calling on Democrats to cut Social Security, Bauer continues, the anger rising in his voice.
“The idea that the Republican economic agenda is popular and is held back by the Republican social agenda is, like everything else in Washington, D.C., exactly upside down,” he says.
But judging by GOP leaders’ responses – or lack thereof -- to the Supreme Court’s gay marriage rulings, the schism between social and economic conservatives doesn’t look set to ease anytime soon. The Republican National Committee and its chairman, Reince Priebus, were silent on the decisions. Speaker Boehner said he was “disappointed” in the rulings, and hoped states would define marriage as the union between one man and one woman. Senator McConnell issued no comment.
They seemed to be following the playbook outlined in a recent report by an RNC task force that suggested opposition to gay marriage could harm a party trying to grow its appeal among demographic groups that went heavily Democratic last November.
“On messaging, we must change our tone – especially on certain social issues that are turning off young voters,” the report read. “In every session with young voters, social issues were at the forefront of the discussion; many see them as the civil rights issues of our time. We must be a party that is welcoming and inclusive for all voters.”
Indeed, given the political standoff in Congress, any Republican efforts to strengthen DOMA are already dead on arrival (and ditto efforts by Democrats to eliminate DOMA altogether). So, by definition, the effort to defend traditional marriage goes to the states.
And in the wake of Wednesday’s rulings, the challenge is likely to get even more difficult in the court of public opinion.
Brian Powell, a sociology professor at Indiana University in Bloomington, cites his research, which shows that when a childless gay couple legally marries, the public is must more likely to view them as a family, compared with a childless gay couple that is only living together.
“What that means,” Mr. Powell says, “is the validation by the Supreme Court that enables more people to be legally married should result in greater acceptance of gay marriage.”
Now that gay couples in California will soon be allowed to marry again, per the instruction of Gov. Jerry Brown (D), following the Prop 8 ruling, more than one-third of Americans will live in jurisdictions with legal gay marriage.