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Health Care Tops List of Fears for Same Sex Couples Who Can’t Marry

Monday, August 25th, 2014

HospitalWhen Niki Quasney felt a piercing pain in her ribcage in March, the oncologist treating her advanced ovarian cancer told her to get to an emergency room immediately. But instead of making the short drive to a hospital near her home in Munster, Indiana, she drove alone for more than 40 minutes to one in neighboring Illinois. Quasney said she was “terrified” her local hospital might not allow her and her partner of more than 13 years, whom she wed last year in another state, to be together if she suffered a health emergency.

Quasney and her partner, Amy Sandler, are among dozens of couples challenging Indiana’s and Wisconsin’s gay marriage bans in a case being heard Tuesday in the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago. Looming large in the case is the issue of medical emergencies faced by same-sex couples.

The couples are suing for the right to marry or to have their out-of-state marriages recognized in their home states. They argue that powers of attorney and domestic partner registries don’t guarantee they’ll be allowed to make critical end-of-life or life-saving decisions. No legal document, they say, can provide the same protections as a marriage certificate.

Authored By Rick Callahan – See the Full Story at LGBTQ Nation

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US Census Will Count Same Sex Couples as Families

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

titleThe results for the 2013 survey by the US Census will, for the first time, categorize same sex couples as families.

The Washington Post reports:

The 2013 American Community Survey results, which will be reported in September, will mark the first time the census integrates an estimated 180,000 same-sex married couples with statistics concerning the nation’s 56 million families. Until now, they had been categorized as unmarried partners, even when couples reported themselves as spouses. Because of the large disparity between the number of gay and straight married households, combining the two is not expected to have a significant effect on the statistics that scholars and planners use to analyze how families are changing. Its significance is largely symbolic of the growing acceptance of gays in American society. “I think the American public already thinks same-sex married couples are families, and the Census Bureau is just catching up with public opinion,” said Andrew J. Cherlin, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University who studies families.

Slowly but surely. the wheels of government are turning toward equality for the LGBT community.

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USA: Medicare Now Open to Married Same Sex Couples

Friday, April 4th, 2014

MedicareOne more step in the implementation of last year’s DOMA ruling.

The Advocate reports:

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has updated Medicare rules so that couples in same-sex marriages can apply for benefits covering hospital stays and physician care. The new rules “help to clarify” the effects of the Supreme Court’s decision last year striking down a key section of the Defense of Marriage Act and therefore allowing the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages. HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius said today in a press release.

One more step forward for married same sex couples. The arc of the moral universe is bending quickly now.

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What You Need to Know This Tax Season

Monday, February 10th, 2014

Taxes and LGBT CouplesThe independent research organization Tax Foundation has released an informative summary of each state’s guidance to gay and lesbian married couples on filing income taxes.

For the 2013 tax year, gay and lesbian couples holding a valid marriage certificate from a state that recognizes same-gender marriage will be able to file a joint federal return. Twenty-two states still do not recognize same-gender marriage while requiring taxpayers to reference their federal return when filing state income tax. Revenue officials in these states must therefore provide guidance for taxpayers.

Authored By Andy Kelly – See the Full Story at SDGLN

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New Zealand: 7% of Weddings In First Four Months Were Same-Sex Couples

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

New Zealand – Google Maps

from Google Maps

According to government figures, in the first four months of marriage equality in New Zealand, same-sex couples accounted for about 7% of all marriages.

Gay Star News reports:

Figures released by the New Zealand Registrar-General of Births, Deaths and Marriages this month show that 7% of marriages since New Zealand legalized same-sex marriage involved a same-sex couple. Close to 5% of the couples who married since same-sex couples could begin to legally marry on 19 August were same-sex New Zealanders while another two percent were from overseas. Of the overseas same-sex couples 88 were Australian while 43 hailed from elsewhere.

As far as we can tell, there’s been very little controversy over the law in New Zealand. Why is it so different from other countries?

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USA: As Colorado Tries to Make It Easier for Gay Couples to File Taxes, Idaho Makes It Harder

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

Taxes and LGBT CouplesIt’s a tale of two states. one state is moving to make it easier for married same-sex couples to file joint taxes, while the other is trying to make it more difficult.

KDVR reports from Colorado:

A proposal that seeks to allow legally married same-sex couples file joint state tax returns cleared its first legislative hurdle Tuesday. Senate Bill 19 passed the Senate Finance Committee on a 3-2 party-line vote. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, would tweak state statutes so that the formal filing status used on state tax returns is linked to a resident’s federal returns.

Meanwhile, in Idaho:

A legislative House committee Tuesday approved a rule that will make it more complicated for married same-sex couples in Idaho to file their taxes. It’s a rule designed to try and appease state law, which does not acknowledge same-sex marriage, and the federal Internal Revenue Service, which does. It was a rare chance for gay Idahoans to speak their mind before lawmakers. The Idaho Legislature is 81 percent Republican and many in the GOP oppose gay marriage. It’s not a topic that comes up often, if at all, in the Legislature, since Idaho law and its constitution both define marriage as between one man and one woman.

They will fight us every single step, every single step of the way. But I firmly believe that love will win out, in the end.

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USA, Illinois: Two More Same-Sex Couples Approved to Marry Immediately

Monday, December 16th, 2013

Illinois mapTwo more same-sex couples facing chronic illness have been allowed to marry in Illinois ahead of the June 2014 start date.

Windy City reports:

A federal judge ordered Dec. 9 that two more Illinois couples–each with partners suffering from chronic illnesses–could wed ahead of the June 1, 2014, start-date for same-sex weddings in the state. A hearing on Dec. 16 will determine whether couples under similar circumstances can marry as well. Judge Sharon Coleman from the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Illinois issued the ruling. The two couples are Elvie Jordan and Challis Gibbs, and Ronald Dorfman and Kenneth Ilio. Two other couples–Brenda Lee and Lee Edwards, and Patricia Tucker and Ingrid Swenson–are named in the Dec. 6 petition but were not granted permission to marry.

We think it’s fantastic that these couples are able to marry right away. But how about just letting everyone marry?

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USA: All 50 States Now Processing Benefits for Same-Sex National Guard Couples

Saturday, December 14th, 2013

Chuck HagelIt looks like US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has won the standoff with the rogue states who had vowed not to process benefits for same-sex couples in the National Guard.

Think Progress reports:

A statement made Friday by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel confirms that all states are now providing benefits to the same-sex spouses of National Guard service members:

HAGEL: On Oct. 31, I called on the chief of the National Guard Bureau to work with several states to fully implement Department of Defense policy by providing DoD identification cards to all eligible military spouses, regardless of sexual orientation. Following consultations between the National Guard Bureau and the adjutants general of the states, all eligible service members, dependents and retirees — including same-sex spouses — are now able to obtain ID cards in every state. All military spouses and families sacrifice on behalf of our country. They deserve our respect and the benefits they are entitled to under the law. All of DoD is committed to pursuing equal opportunities for all who serve this nation, and I will continue to work to ensure our men and women in uniform as well as their families have full and equal access to the benefits they deserve.

Mississippi was the last holdout. The key to the change? Using federal employees, even at state facilities, to process the benefit claims.

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USA, Georgia: State Agrees to Process Benefits for National Guard Same-Sex Couples

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

Georgia mapAnother state has caved on processing benefits for same-sex couples who are part of the state’s National Guard.

The Washington Blade reports:

The Georgia National Guard has become the latest state to agree to process spousal benefit applications for troops in same-sex marriages, according to two sources familiar with the decision. Maj. Jon Craig, a National Guard Bureau spokesperson, said Georgia had agreed to process applications to grant same-sex spouses military IDs last week in a decision along the lines of Texas and Louisiana. “With Georgia, what it came down to was the authorization to put some state employees on temporary federal status,” Craig said.

That means that Mississippi is the only state still standing on the issue.

SDGLN reports:

Mississippi is now the only state in the union to violate Pentagon policy to provide spousal benefits to same-gender couples… Mississippi is expected to comply with the policy, and the Pentagon is putting pressure on the state’s National Guard to provide the benefits to same-gender military couples as they do opposite-gender couples.

One by one like dominoes they fall…

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USA, Washington: 17% of Weddings Were Between Same Sex Couples

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

WashingtonAlmost a fifth of weddings in Washington State this last year were between same sex couples, and of those, 62% were lesbian couples.

The Huffington Post reports:

About 7,071 same-sex couples got married in Washington between December 6, 2012, and the most recent complete month of data, September 2013. There were 42,408 total marriages in the state during that time, according to the Washington State Department of Health. So far, most of Washington state’s same-sex marriages, 62 percent, were between two women. Washington is one of 15 states plus the District of Columbia where gay marriage is legal, but few have the kind of detailed data Washington released this week, in part because gay marriage is so new in most places.

That’s about the same number of couples who married in California during the brief window before Prop 8 in 2008. But now couples can take their time and plan their weddings the way they want them.

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