Monday, July 1, 2013
As I have previously discussed, the recent Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage raise a whole host of questions concerning the rights of same-sex married couples.
First off, the Windsor decision affects only “lawful marriages,” so the rights of couples in registered domestic partnerships and civil unions has not changed. Also, Windsor does not guarantee the right to same-sex marriage, a right still determined by each state.
For now, couples must reside in a state which allows gay marriage for them to take advantage of benefits already available to opposite-sex couples. Therefore, same-sex married couples in states recognizing same-sex marriage can file joint federal income tax returns come April 15, and spouses will likely no longer have to pay income/employment taxes on health insurance provided by their same-sex spouse’s employer.
If a couple were to retire in a non-recognizing state like Florida, then they may be out of luck when it comes to collecting such benefits as Social Security survivor benefits. It remains to be seen whether federal benefits will be retroactive or if they will be effective June 26, 2013; however, it seems inevitable that more litigation will come forth to clear up remaining uncertainties.
See Wendy S. Goffe, After the DOMA Ruling, FAQs About the Rights of Same-Sex Couples, Forbes, June 27, 2013.