Driving all day Wednesday on my way up from Lauderdale to my summer home in Northeast PA (where my other half who spends the winters down in Florida has been since May), I was naturally bombarded by the news of THE rulings.
As the gal who got screwed on estate taxes because her and her partner’s marriage wasn’t recognized by the feds and sued them exclaimed, “Wow!”
OK, but what’s next?
A lot of us thought knocking down Prop 8 would also make the Court declare that same sex marriage should be legal in all 50 states, but I think the ruling only re-conformed that, from the standpoint of the justices, marriage is still a states’ rights issue. Yet, the overturning of the Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA may have the greater long term implications.
Because in its ruling the Court declared DOMA unconstitutional since citizens cannot be discriminated against on the basis of whom they marry. (And therefore are entitled to the same federal benefits str8 married couples receive.) If that’s the case, why should a couple who wants to get married but lives in Mississippi not be entitled to the same rights as a couple who can get married in a state like New York? I think this very important conclusion made by the Court – marriage equality under the U.S. Constitution – is the crack in the dam that will eventually lead to same sex marriage becoming the law of the land. One commentator noted it might come in through the back door (no sexual pun here) when corporations doing business with the feds may be required to offer these benefits even if they’re based in anti-gay states.
But some obvious questions linger:
If I get married in a state where same-sex marriage is legal but reside in or move to a state where it isn’t and that state may or may recognize the marriage of another state, can my spouse and I still benefit from the federal benefits, like joint tax returns, estate tax relief, Social Security and pension survivor benefits and the like?
What about states like New Jersey that offer civil unions in lieu of marriage – can couples there benefit from the DOMA ruling?
One thing for sure: the Religious Right and other homophobic opponents will be turning up the heat to prevent the 36 states that don’t sanction same-sex marriage from “going gay.”
And me? Assuming he signs a pre-nup since I have a lot more money than he does, I plan to lasso my partner this summer to go across the border from our home in PA to Port Jervis, New York, and get hitched.
What’s love got to do with it? Hell, I want those Social Security survivor benefits, buddy.