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Should Same-Sex Marriages Be Allowed the Same Federal Benefits?

Posted on in Family Law
MelissaCurrently, nine states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriage. However, five Supreme Court justices are now arguing about striking down the law that prevents legally married same-sex couples from receiving federal benefits that are provided to heterosexual married couples. According to this article from the Chicago Sun-Times, the provision in question is from the Federal Defense of Marriage Act, and “appears to intrude on the power of states that have chosen to recognize same-sex marriages.” Marital status is mentioned in almost 1,100 federal laws, and includes topics such as estate taxes, Social Security survivor benefits, and health benefits for federal employees. Because of this, the Supreme Court is debating whether all states should allow these benefits to same sex couples. One justice gave an example that gay military families may resist transferring from places like West Point (in New York, where marriage and benefits are allowed) to Fort Sill (in Oklahoma, where they would lose the benefits). Another justice is battling the law on a personal level. Her partner of 44 years died from multiple sclerosis, and left her everything after they were married in Canada in 2007. Indisputably, if she was married to a man, her estate tax bill would have been zero. A district judge and the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York ruled that the provision of the Defense of Marriage Act denied this justice the constitutional guarantee of equal protection of the law. These debates were held on Wednesday, March 27, 2013. The day prior, the Supreme Court heard debates on whether same-sex marriage should be allowed at all. Tuesday’s audio can be heard here; Wednesday, here. The rise of this topic to the Supreme Court has been fast and furious—it wasn’t until 10 years ago that any state even allowed same-sex marriages. If you and your partner want to learn more about the possible outcomes for Illinois or have any other family law questions, contact our office in Wheaton, Illinois, today to learn more.       Image courtesy
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