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View Diary: Elena Kagan proves that DOMA's original intent was bigotry, not tradition (129 comments)

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  •  I doubt the Federal Government will (8+ / 0-)

    consider "civil unions" as marriages for the purpose of federal law.

    So yeah, future court battles will be involved.

    One should no more deplore homosexuality than left-handedness. ~Towards a Quaker View of Sex, 1964 (Proud left-handed queer here!) SSP: wmlawman

    by AUBoy2007 on Wed Mar 27, 2013 at 12:56:07 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  Federal law & gov't are unfortunately not a single (4+ / 0-)

      entity.  The entity that most people interact with regularly is the IRS, and the IRS has long held that, DOMA aside, if it doesn't use the M-word, it's not a marriage for their purposes.  (This actually came up, I believe, when it came to domestic partnerships, but I'm pretty sure it applies to civil unions as well).  So without DOMA, the IRS will begin to treat a Massachusetts married gay couple as married for tax purposes, but not a "civil unioned" couple.

      A lot of big corporations have begun to treat folks with civil unions as married and are eating the additional cost in providing benefits (e.g. vis-a-vis their health insurance provider(s)); this has become extremely common on the West Coast, in the IT industry in particular.  But that's a development on the private side.

      To really unravel the onion will take a long time; even if a Big Bang full equality decision comes down that both eliminated DOMA and mandated 50-state equal marriage (I'm not quite holding my breath, but we'll see... I don't think the Big Bang facts are before the Court yet, and for good reason - we could end up with a Casey and regret it), it could take a year or more just for each agency to go through its CFRs and figure out what has to be changed, submit the changes for public comment, renegotiate contracts for benefits, etc. etc.  In the meanwhile, a lot of these benefits would probably be provided ad hoc as most of the agencies would likely seek to do good faith compliance while they peeled back their particular onion, particularly if that kind of ruling comes down during a Democratic administration.

      So, you're right, depending on how it comes down, people won't wake up the next day and have all federal issues resolved, even with a fully positive ruling.

      "The first drawback of anger is that it destroys your inner peace; the second is that it distorts your view of reality. If you come to understand that anger is really unhelpful, you can begin to distance yourself from anger." - The Dalai Lama

      by auron renouille on Wed Mar 27, 2013 at 01:54:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  On the health insurance coverage (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        basket

        When you say the corporations are "eating the additional cost" it must only be in premium because even if DOMA is overturned, as long as civil unions aren't treated the same as marriage there are still issues:

        1. The company cannot take a tax deduction for the portion of the cost of any benefit given to the employee's civil union partner.

        2. The value of that benefit coverage for a civil union partner must still be included in the employee's W-2 as taxable income.

        That's how it is now for those married same sex couples and it seems that's how it would remain for those in civil unions.

        •  Yup, each state's issues are different. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          basket, BlueSue

          Sounds like you know more than me so I'll definitely defer to you on the specifics but California presents unique problems - we've got legally married people, post-Prop 8 civil unioned people, out-of-state domestic partnerships, Canadian marriages if the company brought in talent from BC etc... I don't know the specifics at all of how tech companies handle it, just know that it's become common for companies in the Bay Area that offer strong benefits packages to absorb some of those costs both as a matter of ethics and as a way to attract and keep talent.  But you're absolutely right, every couple presents unique problems and the companies can't always totally eliminate the potential tax penalties, particularly vis-a-vis earned income.  I think a common cost that they do eat is, for instance, insurance companies not giving family discounts because the couple isn't actually married, that sort of thing - that's what I commonly heard about.  But I'm no longer in CA so I'm not up on the latest on these things.

          "The first drawback of anger is that it destroys your inner peace; the second is that it distorts your view of reality. If you come to understand that anger is really unhelpful, you can begin to distance yourself from anger." - The Dalai Lama

          by auron renouille on Wed Mar 27, 2013 at 03:38:44 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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