Top Of My Head

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Tag: DOMA

Gay Marriage: The Real Inequality

Last week, the US Supreme Court ruled that DOMA was unconstitutional.  That means that gay people in states that recognize or have gay marriage will have their marriages recognized.  This is good – for them.

For those of us who are gay, in non-legally recognized marriages and living in the wrong states, nothing has changed.  We still do not have the right to inheritance, hospital visitations and joint income tax returns.  It, also, means we don’t have the responsibilities and protections that marriage offers.

There are legal ways around this.  My wife and I have registered as Domestic Partners, so we have some of these rights.  And, prior to Domestic Partnerships being legal in my state, we had signed power of attorneys for health and legal matters.

BUT…

What we can’t do is file a marriage, filing jointly income tax return.  And, this is what burns my butt.

By myself, I will pay $12,260 in Federal Income Taxes in 2013.  My wife (who earns less than I do) will pay $2,978.  Together, that’s $15,238.  (This is based on the IRS Withholding Calculator.)  Using the same calculator, I calculated what we would owe if we could file as a married filing jointly couple and the amount is $13,901.  That’s $1,337 less than what we’re separately paying now.

I don’t think I’m receiving $1,337 in extra Federal Benefits, do you?  What am I getting for this money?  Why is MY marriage not recognize by the Federal government because a bunch of bigots didn’t want gay marriage nine years ago – and they won. (By cheating, the question was worded so that yes meant against gay marriage and no meant for gay marriage.  I can’t tell you the number of my friends who were happy it passed, because they couldn’t figure out the difference.)

In any case, we have a long way to go.

DOMA Defense…

Previously on Top Of My Head…

Back in February, I wrote that I was torn on President Obama and the Justice Department’s decision to not defend DOMA in Federal Court.  Today, I’m experiencing Deja Vu.

The Republicans announced that they will defend DOMA.  Again, I’m torn.

On one hand, I don’t want someone being able to challenge a law in court without the government mounting a defense against the challenge.  On the other hand, this law affects me and mine, so I want to see it go down in flames.

As quoted by NPR, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said, “I don’t think the House had any choice but to take the position that we were going to defend the work of the Congress. And only the courts are in the position of determining the constitutionality of any bill.”

And, he’s correct.

Unfortunately, this defense is falling along party lines.  The Democrats should sign on to defend the law as well.  However; I can understand their reluctance to do so.  Fifteen years ago, support for DOMA was huge.  A great many people were against the idea of gay marriage.  A vote against the law back then was probably more risky then than a support to overturn it is now.  To me, DOMA is an example of why we shouldn’t make DOMA a Constitutional Amendment.  A law is much easier to overturn than an Amendment.

That said, the Republicans have nothing to lose with their support and everything to gain.  Setting aside that they are doing the right thing, they will gain momentum with their base – people who are anti-gay.  On a side note, most of their base is anti-something.  The law, even as unjust as it is, needs to be defended in court.  That’s how our balance of power works.  I would give more credit to the Democrats if even one of them had the courage to say, “I don’t believe in the law, but it needs to be defended.”

Of course, I would give the Republicans more credit if they worked this hard to repeal DOMA.

Obama’s DOMA Decision

Man, I’m torn.

On one hand, I’m thrilled that DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) is probably going down.  On the other hand, I’m not happy about the way it is going to happen.

Here’s the thing, Obama is just plain wrong.  Yes, DOMA is unconstitutional.  Yes, DOMA makes some citizens of the United States unequal to other citizens.  Yes, I want to see DOMA gone.

However; there is a larger and more important issue at stake here.

If the Department of Justice doesn’t defend attacks on our laws in court, then no law is sound.  As much as I like Obama, this is a serious oversight on his part.  I would think that someone who specialized in Constitutional law would’ve had a little more sight into the big picture.  Calling on the Justice Department to not defend DOMA is wrong.  It sends the wrong message on our Nation’s laws.  It will allow the next President to decide that he doesn’t like a law and tell the DOJ to not do their job to defend our Nation’s laws.

I’ve heard talk among gay people that Obama hasn’t done enough for us.  But, seriously, did anyone really cast their vote for Obama thinking that him being President would mean gays and lesbians would be allowed to legally marry?  I know I didn’t.

I, also, believe that at this moment in time, we have more pressing matters.  Our economy – though it is improving – needs more hand holding.  We need to put the money taken from Social Security and put it back in.  We need to improve our education.  Gay marriage is a little low on the list.

I know President Obama is a politician and politicians do things to gain political power or to make their base happy (Can anyone say Scott Walker and Koch Industries?), but I a truly disappointed in Obama.  I expected more from him than a cold bone that will harm our legal system for years to come.  I wanted the DOJ to defend DOMA to their best of their abilities and then lose because the law is morally bankrupt and unconstitutional.  I wanted a ruling that would stick for years to come, not a band aid.

Obama should’ve come up with a better way to do this.

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