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The Lay of the Land Post-Windsor and –Perry

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

With marriage equality now coming to Illinois and Hawaii, nearly 40% of the country lives in a marriage equality state. But just how federal and state governments will navigate the still-unsettled reality (and consequences) of marriage equality remains an open question.

Although Windsor invalidated Section 3 of DOMA, it left Section 2 in place, which allows states to refuse to recognize same gender marriages performed in other states. Marriages are not judgments or orders, and are therefore not entitled to equality under constitutional principles of full faith and credit among the states. This has the potential to impact benefits, parental rights, divorce, and other issues for same-sex couples depending on where they marry and where they live.

Read the full story on the MEUSA news blog…

USA: New Guidance on IRS, Treasury and Medicare Benefits for Same Sex Couples

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

USA MapThe IRS and US Treasury will recognize all legally married gay and lesbian couples, regardless of where they live. Edge Boston reports:

The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service said Thursday that all same sex couples will be recognized for federal tax purposes, regardless of whether the state where they live recognizes the marriage, the New York Times reported today. “Today’s ruling provides certainty and clear, coherent tax-filing guidance for all legally married same-sex couples nationwide,” Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew said in a statement. “This ruling also assures legally married same-sex couples that they can move freely throughout the country knowing that their federal filing status will not change.”

Plus, it’s retroactive. Wonk Blog reports:

What’s more, the rule is retroactive. As the press release puts it: “Generally, the statute of limitations for filing a refund claim is three years from the date the return was filed or two years from the date the tax was paid, whichever is later. As a result, refund claims can still be filed for tax years 2010, 2011, and 2012.” Given that same-sex couples are likelier to have similar incomes than opposite-sex couples (which is why the Congressional Budget Office scored legal same-sex marriage as increasing revenue and reducing the deficit), the number of people eligible for refunds in those years will be considerably smaller than the total married population. And the tax bill for many couples will grow going forward.

In related news, same sex couples also got some guidance on medicare benefits today. The Washington Blade reports:

Gay married couples are now eligible for nursing home care through Medicare-funded private insurance in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision against the Defense of Marriage Act, according to guidance from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid obtained Thursday by the Washington Blade. In the guidance dated Aug. 29, Danielle Moon, director of the Medicare Drug & Health Plan Contract Administration Group, explains the new post-DOMA policy to Medicare Advantage organizations, or private companies that contract with Medicare to provide coverage. Moon says the ruling against Section 3 of DOMA requires these companies to cover services offered in a skilled nursing facility, or a nursing home, for a gay married couple to the same extent they would provide them to an opposite-sex couple.

Great news for US same sex couples!