Taxes and Gay Marriage

I wrote about a lawsuit filed in Massachusetts to end the Defense of  Marriage Act back in March and yesterday Ellen Goodman published a good piece about why this is important.  Titled “A Strange Duel Citizenship”, Goodman writes

THEY ARE NOT the only married couple in America who talk about taxes and ulcers in the same sentence. Nor are they the only couple who believe they are paying more than they should. On that ground they are part of a noisy majority.

But they are a couple for whom tax season also entails an identity crisis. You see, Melba Abreu and Beatrice Hernandez file state taxes as what they are – a legally married Massachusetts couple. But under federal law, they have to file federal taxes as what they aren’t – two single women.

This identity crisis is not just some psychological blip on the cheerful landscape of their family life. In the last four years, the government’s refusal to consider them a married couple has cost the writer and the CFO of a nonprofit about $5,000 a year. As Beatrice puts it, “We don’t know anyone for whom $20,000 and counting isn’t significant.”

This is not about forcing states to choose to marry people.  It is about the simple act of recognizing legal marriages in other states.  It is not different from my straight marriage being recognized in Massachusetts even though I got married in Virginia.  Goodman concludes

So what do you say about an out-of-date law that enforces an identity crisis? What do you say about a law that “defends” marriage by denying it? The winds are blowing, but in a very different direction.

Amendment to this post

When I wrote this on Saturday morning, I hadn’t seen Stephen Colbert’s video mocking the anti-gay marriage ad – which he describes as combining the 700 Club and the Weather Channel.  Take a look.

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