The Great Gay Migration – Suze Orman Urges Gay Couples to Move for Marriage Equality

Love Wins: Respect For Marriage Finds Federal Support – But Which States Are Most Supportive?Love Wins: Respect For Marriage Finds Federal Support – But Which States Are Most Supportive?

“People ask, ‘What’s the big deal about being married,?’ When it comes to insurance, estate benefits, pensions, it’s really important that this happens on the federal level, not just the state level.”

– Suze Orman

Financial consultant, author and CNBC TV personality Suze Orman recently told the press that gay couples should put their money where equality lives—so much so, that they should move to pro marriage equality states.

In March of this year, Orman voiced her opinions on the MSNBC program “Now With Alex Wagner.”She’s concerned about the livelihood of herself and partner Kathy Travis (Orman often affectionately calls her “KT”), and she wants to defend the rights of committed couples everywhere.

Sharing the platform with Congressman Sean Maloney (the first openly gay congressman from New York), Orman broached the topic earnestly, saying: “Here’s the thing…gay people understand very well that when they get married, that is a legal document. And when you get married, that means if you don’t want to stay together anymore, then you are going to have to go through a serious divorce.”

She continued, “I care about every single gay person out there. I care about every single straight person out there that knows somebody who’s gay.”

“Currently I am a resident of Florida … and I would be more than happy to go and move. I have substantial wealth.  I pay substantial taxes… I would be more than happy to move to New York or California if I could get married and be recognized on a federal level, because I want to live in a state that validates me, and I would validate them with my money.”

As a Fort Lauderdale, FL resident, Suze Orman made her comments before Section 3 of the  Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was declared unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court (thereby no longer preventing the federal government from recognizing marriages of same-sex couples). Her words continue to reverberate in the community.

Federal and state agencies still have to be about the business of enforcing the overturned law, trying to standardize what it means in terms of state-to-state protections, and engendering the transition throughout the US in terms of granting benefits and myriad other legal rights for couples.

Activists continue to encourage LGBTQ people to vote with their dollars and embody their feelings through proactively standing a stand. Though Florida has no state income tax, Orman told the press a move could still save her millions of dollars, so she continues to ponder moving to a state that’s more supportive for gay couples, such as California.

“KT is not for that, just so you know,” Orman recently told The Huffington Post. “I really think that it is…important that all of us support states that support us.”

So what’s next for LGBTQ legally married folks? Do we stay in less progressive states and fight for our own benefits where we live, or move to places where we are afforded more legal protections?

 

–Both?

Et Tu, LGBTQ? | Gays Don’t Want to Get Gay-Married

“Men have to be dragged kicking and screaming to the altar – whether they’re straight or gay. Marital data obtained by The Post show a stark, 3-to-2 ratio of lesbian marriages, compared to all-male unions. Can we finally stop pretending that gay men are interested in getting ‘married?’”

– Joe Carter, FirstThings.com

Psst… Opinions Come In All The Colors of the Rainbow

Feelgood marriage equality campaigns make front page news. When it comes to marriage equality, dissent and debate on the subject “doesn’t bleed, therefore it doesn’t lead.”

Emotional appeals, petitions and yummy flash mobs are changing the tides, and they do bring with them a healthy amount of influence. Recent and continued marriage equality victories around the world (http://gayagenda.com/?s=marriage) are a testament to the fact that people are paying attention and spreading the word about freedom for everyone to marry. This translates to success in legislative arenas.

With each new court victory, aftershocks move from one blogger, activist and journalist to another—from one dissenting voice in this or that bar, library, or LGBT center and back again. It sounds like this: “We’re pressured to be good little gays or assimilationist queers, and to fit in. I don’t give a toss about fitting in. You can take your marriage rights and shove ’em!”

You don’t have to go too far to find all any “hell-no’ers.” Just turn your head to the side, away from the press, and voila!

Is it just men who don’t want to hook up…with one person…legally…for life?

Anecdotal evidence could tell you otherwise—check in with your women friends and have a good, long listen. Let’s not talk about the “sanctity of hetero marriage” viewpoint today. But since those dissenters exist (and hold political power), many LGBTQ folks who are politically active or vehemently anti-marriage will align with them—even if those fellow dissenters are anti-gay—so long as they’re against gay marriage in particular. (See” Gay Marriage Agenda” arguments at http://queerkidssaynomarriage.wordpress.com.)

When you think about the concept of “gay marriage,” it can feel confusing. We don’t say “hetero marriage” or “wo/man marriage.” The words “gay marriage” channel utterances of otherness between the syllables. (Like, “Look at this cute kitty marriage on YouTube!” ”Look Honey, it’s the Gays and the Gay Marriage thing on TV!”)

Too, the phrase by nature excludes LBTQ…and IA from the discussion (and other more inclusive acronyms and letters as they evolve, deserving upgraded legal protections as well). Allies are often though not always queer and questioning, and not just straight-identified. Queer culture is fluid like that. The words “gay marriage” can sound like something that needs to be tracked for stats’ sake. The phrase sounds “like an issue: gay marriage, teen pregnancy, drug addiction.”

Here’s the thing—gay marriage is still an issue. When holding hands in public or private space means risking your life, safety or livelihood, that’s a serious issue. When access into hospital rooms to see a hubby or wifey of 10 years (or a month, a year) is denied, what would that be, if not an issue?

The wording is telling: politically in terms of entitlement, agency, money, class (and other bonuses,), it is said that “gay men get the goodies first,” and the rest trickles on over to the other letters in the LGBTQI alphabet. Why, for instance, isn’t marriage equality called “queer marriage” or “LGBTQIA marriage?” “Trans marriage equality” as another concept that’s a tangential, cut-and-paste amalgam of legal and relational ideas still being hammered out.

As for getting goodies first, enjoying the first bits of crumbs when the expectation and norm is the whole damned pie, it’s a “faux privileged” state of affairs, anyhow. This isn’t the space for vilifying gay men by any means, even if they have no interest in sharing spectral space and rights.

The word gay is often interchangeably used in the place of LGBTQIA when we discuss everything from culturality to entertainment, still, the shortcut seems to add “suffer it to be so now” elements to activism work that can’t make good progress if it’s mired in gradualism.

Complicated, no doubt.

The pomp and romance wedding circumstance is something we need to love up on and appreciate. What’s life without love? Weddings are a gorgeous metaphor. Queer folks deserve that option. When the legal equality honeymoon ends and ends again state-by-state, we need to continue to do the work of commitment and marriage to the entire community.

These LGBTQ folks aren’t so keen on everybody getting “gay-married up.” Here are 11 different ways to think about things. Folks are saying:

1) No wedding, thanks: “We just wanna f*ck.” – http://www.vice.com/read/dont-celebrate-the-gay-marriage-victory-with-a-wedding-of-your-own

2) “Just because I’m not married doesn’t mean I have to be gay. Or that I should get married. Even if I am gay. Or…lesbian. Whatever. None of your business. Shut up!” (Anonymous anecdotal pull quote)

3) “Why can’t they take the opportunity to add trans rights into the experience? If I’m transitioning and not the supposed correct legal gender, or if I choose to marry a woman or a man, I should have legal protection for that.” (Anonymous anecdotal pull quote)

4) Poly people can be queer and committed too. Duh! (Anonymous anecdotal pull quote)

5) I just “don’t want to get gay married.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/liz-wallace/why-i-dont-want-to-get-gay-married_b_1544781.html

6) “Hi, I live in Europe.” Non, merci: http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/most-homosexuals-dont-want-to-marry-or-adopt-french-homosexual-leader-admit/

7) “Marriage is dumb. They just want your LGBT money, Honey.” https://creatingclare.wordpress.com/2013/07/26/silly-gay-people-dont-you-know-marriage-is-for-dummies.

Somebody wrote a song about –wanna hear it? Here it comes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQh5G8mOiSA

8) “Congratulations, you’re boring now:” http://nogaymarriage.wordpress.com/2011/06/27/congratulations-new-york

9) “Equality” isn’t enough. “Gay marriage apes hetero privilege.” http://www.againstequality.org/about/marriage

10) “We’re going to be rejected anyway, no matter what we do, so what’s the use of fighting for it?” http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/02/26/gays-who-dont-want-gay-marriage.html

11) You can “find your way,” and stay committed – it doesn’t have to be “conventional.” http://jezebel.com/5328896/nro-valentino-proves-people-dont-want-gay-marriage

Marry Gay? N-F-Way.

If you want to surf the #MarryGayNFWay train, you’ll find many bloggers out there to help you make that happen– many of whom bring to light salient points, and stats upon stats of support. Begin your journey at Gays Against Gay Marriage.(http://nogaymarriage.wordpress.com). Wear protective gear.

This writer believes in love. You can call it what you want, but you’d better get it while the getting is good.

And you? Do you get it?

Just Say YES to Kermit the Frog’s Gay Rainbow Connection Video

Let’s just get this out of the way: clicking on most of the videos below is reserved for adults only, NSFW, and utterly hilarious. All clear? All righty, then.

It’s true: “Same Love” (http://gayagenda.com/same-love-success) is gorgeous, beautiful, lyrical and incredible. Sometimes, it’s good to know we can joke together about marriage equality, too.

Hot on the strappy, red high heels of bawdy, silly or NSFW gay parody video zingers from IT GETS BETTERISH, Jonny McGovern the Gay Pimp (“Lookin’ Cute Feelin’ Cute”) CmaddoxBiitch‎ (Drag Tyra “smizing,”) ANY of Willam’s or Margaret Cho’s gay-themed clips, Sassy Gay Friend, and RuPaul’s “Peanut Butter” (you get the idea…)

…comes a Muppets-esque sing-a-long that’s less kid-friendly, more gay-friendly, and extremely ridiculous.

This “Kermie-inspired” creation by Raging Artist TV is a cleverly veiled spoof of “The Rainbow Connection” song and Muppets movie clip. A Kermit the Frog(ish), sweetly-voiced impersonator sings about marriage equality, divorce’s inevitability, and somehow works in kiddie rants about gay sex in North Korea, as well as controversy surrounding the Pope.

Sounds Ridiculous? It is. Get the idea?

Choice (and less racy)  lyric highlights include:

“Weddings are nightmares/People want them/so who cares/If it’s two girls or two guys?”

And–

“Someday we’ll all get/The Rainbow Connection/And all get divorced, probably” (Then Kermit adds, “Just saying, statistically speaking, it doesn’t look good.”)

The Kermit parody video’s creator Hersh Rephun said he was inspired by his frustration: “My comedy comes from the things that make me cry,”  Rephun said. “If I could write sad and beautiful music, this would be a much more serious video about marriage equality and finally being on the right side of history. Instead, it has Muppets getting divorced.”

We couldn’t find video of Kermit twerking,” he continued. “But I hope the kids and the dirty old men watch anyway.”

With all this snarky, crunchy goodness sung to the tune of the Rainbow Connection, once you take a listen and have a look, you’ll never feel the same about that song again. If you’re looking for a politically correct, feelgood singalong, you’d better keep on looking.

The (of course not officially affiliated) folks at The Jim Henson Company and at Disney have yet to make a statement about it, but the video’s making a strong enough statement of its own.

There are tons of other snicker-inducing marriage equality videos out there, like:

Dustin Lance Black’s Prop 8 The Musical – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ug3YkVhkemg

Louis CK on Gay Marriage – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPvVnrV1tow

Pt. 1. Gay Men Will Marry Your Girlfriends – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-YCdcnf_P8

Pt. 2.  Gay Women Will Marry Your Boyfriends – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r0Be8LnuG3U

Todrick Halls’ celebrity-packed video, “Cinderfella” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9ZA7bn5ujk

Smurfs For Marriage Equality  – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WE_EawP3-h4

(George Takei, Jane Lynch, Alicia Silverstone and more in) Funny or Die’s A Gaythering Storm –  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NnsG008ntYY

The Lonely Island – Spring Break Gay Anthem – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jUw4Qh9uFK8

The Gay “Marry Me” – Eurovision 2013 Parody – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNUN_GLaIjY

And a gaggle of magical Marriage Equality memes for good measure. – http://politicalhumor.about.com/b/2013/03/28/funniest-redesigns-of-the-marriage-equality-sign-on-facebook.htm

So let’s go: let’s laugh our way to the LGBT right to marry (even if you think weddings suck!) and keep fighting the good fight.

Hot or Not? Funny…or just dumb? Do you think Kermit’s gay-friendly Rainbow Connection video gets the message across, or what? Tell us what’s on your mind, Darlings…

 

 

California Allows Gay Marriage, but School Doesn’t

Rally and Online Petition for Fired Gay Teacher

A popular English teacher at St. Lucy’s Priory High School in Glendora, California has been fired not for incompetence, but because news of his same-sex wedding went public.  The teacher, Ken Bencomo, 45, married his partner of 10 years, Christoper Persky, on July 1 in a civil ceremony at San Bernandino City Hall of Records.  They were among the first gay couples to wed after the Supreme Court struck down Proposition 8 in California.

The pictures of the wedding, accompanied an article about marriage equality, were in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin on July 1st and created quite a stir with the Catholic private high school’s administration which employed Bencomo.  Just days after the newspaper photos appeared, this head of the English Department, a Rancho Cucamongo resident, was fired because “his marriage violated the Catholic church’s teachings based on Roman Catholic tradition. Gay marriage goes against the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Bencomo vs. St. Lucy’s Priory High School

Bencomo was told on July 12 by the school that his teaching contract for the fall would not be renewed.  Bencomo’s lawyer Patrick McGarrigle contends that the school knew Bencomo was gay for at least ten of the seventeen years he taught as he brought his partner to school functions.  Bencomo may sue the school.

Although the school purports that “it does not discriminate against teachers or other school employees based on their private lifestyle choices, public displays of behavior that are directly contrary to church teachings are inconsistent with these values.”  The Catholic Church does not consider homosexuality a sin per se, but only if you act on it.

Rally Planned for August 4 to Reinstate Teacher

Former St. Lucy’s student Brittany Littleton, describes Bencomo as a “beloved mentor, confidant, and educator.” Littleton, now 23, launched a petition that has garnered 45,000 signatures.  She will deliver the petition at a press conference on August 8th at the school where former and current students as well as faculty will gather to show support for Bencomo in a peaceful rally.

 

Betty Crocker Bakes Cakes for first 3 Gay Couples to Wed in Minnesota

On August 1st, Minnesota Becomes 12th State to Legalize Same-sex Marriage

Three same-sex couples gathered at Betty Crocker Kitchens at General Mills Headquarters in Golden Valley, Minnesota to taste-test wedding cakes that are being donated for their weddings. Baked with the Betty Crocker formula, these cakes are for the first three couples who will be the first to marry in the 12th state that has legalized gay marriage on August 1.

General Mills Supports Marriage Equality

General Mills, which owns the Betty Crocker brand, is donating cakes as part of the brand’s “The Family Project,” a mission to understand what it means to be a family so we can share the strengths that make every family party of a home.  The website says that families are changing a lot.  But they’re still got one thing in common – the love that makes a home.  At Betty Crocker, we believe that a family is a family, no matter how it’s arranged. “  Crocker includes same-sex couples in its “Home: The State of Family in America.”

The Lucky Couples Who Get Free Wedding Cakes

The first couple to marry are two women who live in Grand Forks, North Dakota. (on August 1, Miinesota’s law will recognize the marriages of gay couples who legally wed in other states).  They are Margaret Miles and Cathy ten Broeke who have a five-year-old son and already had a wedding twelve years ago. They will be married by Mayor R.T. Rybak at City Hall as will Reid Bordson and Paul Nolle.

Mayor Rybak is expected to officiate at the marriage of forty-two same-sex couples. Minnesota estimates that 5,000 gay couples will marry during the law’s first year. Gay weddings are not just taking place in courthouses. One is scheduled at 12:01 a.m. at the Mall of America’s Chapel of Love. The Como Park Conservatory in St. Paul will be the official wedding site of the third couple, Al Giraud and Jeff Isaacson.

Minnesota Was Not Always Ready for Gay Marriage

It was a two year political battle for Minnesota to arrive at same-sex marriage on August 1, 2013. On November 6, 2012, a proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage passed by the Legislature.  In 2011, gay marriage was rejected by 52.6% of Minnesota voters. Minnesota became the second state to reject such a ban through popular referendum.

On May 1, 2013, the House of Representative passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage on a vote of 75 to 50. On May 13, 2013, the Senate passed a bill on a vote of 37-30. Governor Mark Dayton signed the bill into law on May 14th with the legalization of same-sex marriage taking effect on August 1, 2013 (same day as Rhode Island’s ).

The Times They Are A Changin’

When a gay ban was on the ballot last fall, only a dozen among Minnesota’s eighty-seven counties opposed it.  Most rural counties supported the idea of banning gay marriage by margins of 3-to-2, or even 3-to-1.  They were outvoted by the urban centers statewide.

Now, a June 2013 Star Tribune Minnesota poll found that 46% of Minnesotans support same-sex marriage.

 

 

 

PROPOSITION 8 SUPPORTERS FAIL AGAIN TO STOP SAME SEX MARRIAGE IN CA

On Monday, July 15, 2013 the California State Supreme Court without explanation refused to issue an emergency halt to same sex marriage as requested in the latest petition filed by Project Marriage on behalf of Ernest Droneburg, a San Diego county clerk. The legal brief filed on Friday, July 12, 2013 asked that the California State Supreme Court stop same sex marriage until the legal arguments could be considered in full. The legal brief was filed in the California State Supreme Court as the United States Supreme Court has already barred them from defending Proposition 8 in federal court.

Project Marriage is arguing that State officials incorrectly interpreted the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 28, 2013 decision. Since the U.S. Supreme Court did not rule directly on the Perry Case, Project Marriage’s position is that the U.S. Supreme Court did not make same sex marriage legal they simply “tossed out” the gay marriage ban on a legal technicality.

Project Marriage’s further argues that the original lawsuit filed in San Francisco only named county clerks of Los Angeles and Alameda counties and therefore does not apply to the other 56 counties in the state of California.  In addition they propose that State registers had no authority to instruct county clerks in these 56 counties to comply with the Governor and Attorney General’s order to resume issuing same sex marriage licenses.

In response to the California State Supreme Court’s refusal to halt same sex marriage, The County Counsel’s Association of California is drafting an opposition petition that more than 20 other county clerks are expected to file by Monday, July 22, 2013.

The Friday, July 12, 2013 filing was the second attempt by Proposition 8 supporters to halt same sex marriage in California after the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 28, 2013 ruling. The first petition was filed one day after this ruling. They argued that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals lacked the authority to remove the same sex marriage ban because the 25 day waiting period before the U.S. Supreme Court rendered its final disposition (sending a certified copy of the judgment to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals) had not yet passed. Failing to do so, deprived them of their right of a reasonable amount of time to prepare a petition for rehearing. This petition was also denied without comment on June 30, 2013.

Gay Marriage in French Prison Is Actually Anti-Gay Marriage

As the saying goes, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Trying to beat them by joining them is one of the newest anti-gay marriage protests in France.

Last week, news outlets were buzzing as two male inmates, both serving long sentences for murder, were married in a civil ceremony.

Germain Gaiffe and Alfredo Stranieri had their “wedding ceremony” in a high-security prison at Poissy, near Paris. Gaiffe received a 30-yar sentence for beheading and chopping up a shopkeeper into pieces, and Stranieri gained the nickname the “small ads killer,” since he targeted his victims through classified advertisements, and was given a life sentence for killing four people and burying them in his garden. Both were sentenced in 2003.

As if the story needed more momentum, the two witnesses for the couple had a sort of celebrity status as well, in as distasteful of a light as those wed. Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, a controversial comedian who is vocally anti-gay marriage and anti-Semitic, and Iich Ramírez Sánchez, internationally known terrorist and better known as “Carlos the Jackal,” was transferred to the prison for the ceremony. He is serving two life sentences for a raid in Vienna on the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) headquarters in 1975, killing three people (though by his count he’s killed many more), and multiple bomb plots in Paris in the 1980s.

Does it all seem a bit too over-the-top? Others have thought so as well. The penitentiary union UFAP-Unsa Justice at the prison said that the wedding came from “just a desire to make some buzz,” and was altogether a “non-event.”

To discredit the couple further of supporting same-sex marriage in general, in 2011 they claimed to have fathered the child of a former French Politician, Rachida Dati, and courts added three months to each inmate’s time because of the defaming nature of the comments on Dati.

After same-sex marriage was legalized back in May there have been several protests by those in favor of “traditional” marriage and who have spoken out against lgbt rights.

Because of those in attendance, and the altogether high-profile nature of the ceremony, some are seeing past the shocking headlines and are realizing the absurdity of the situation. While anti-lgbt activists will likely use this prison wedding as ammunition against queer rights movements, possibly worldwide, more are coming to see it as less reality and more farce.

Intense Community Interactions Over Gay Pride Month in Porterville, California

Going against the grain another time in national news, Porterville, California is under scrutiny for its recent city council decisions around the subject of lgbt rights and same-sex marriage.

For over a month there has been a heated debate within the community after the mayor signed a proclamation naming June “Gay Pride Month.” Mayor Virginia Gurrola was following the lead of both President Obama and governor of California Jerry Brown, who made declarations earlier. Of the members of the city council, the mayor was the only signatory, sparking a divide within the community. While it is within the duties of the mayor to issue proclamations with the council signing afterward, none of them joined in, setting the stage for the intensity that followed.

After the Supreme Court found Proposition 8 unconstitutional and allowed California to resume and recognize same-sex marriages, the lgbt community held a peaceful rally in a local park, and local government moved cautiously around the news. Some in the community were disappointed with the ruling, while others were nonplussed, seeing it as expected from the court.

On Tuesday, July 16, the city council met to debate the mayor’s declaration, to vote on repealing the notion, and to replace it with another. Beforehand in mid-June, council member Brian Ward drafted a resolution to call June “A Month of Community Charity and Goodwill to All.” The document was intended to have a more-widespread impact than just singling out a specific group.

When debating this decision, Ward asked the crowd, “Why does the LGBT community get special consideration? Why can’t it apply to everyone?” In just the beginning of the chaos of the night, someone in the crowd yelled back, “Because you hate us!” The council chamber was full of people, gaining a lot of attention from community members on which way the council would vote.

In 2008, the Porterville city council was the only one in the state of California to pass a resolution in favor of Proposition 8, and the feelings of the crowd reflected the past pain. Many felt that the decision to replace “Gay Pride Month” with something else rather than to include it alongside was homophobic and intended to cover up differences in the community rather than address them.

Back in the council chambers, police had to be brought in later that night when the vote to rescind the proclamation passed 3-2 and the crowd became visibly upset and agitated. Three activists disrupted the proceedings, holding up signs and shouting “You’re not fair!” All three were arrested and spent the night in jail.

It’s to be seen what will happen in the small but divided community of over 50,000 residents. Mayor Gurrola told the Huffington Post that she stood behind the proclamation, and that she became visibly agitated because she did not think that it was as controversial as the community made it be. She also said that after the vote was taken, a young person went to her, also hurt about what occurred in the meeting. “I told him, ‘be proud of who you are and don’t let those words hurt you, they’re just words.’ In general, I always try to tell young people around here, ‘you know what, we’re here for you. I’ve got your back.’” With sadness over the night, she added, “I’m afraid this time I didn’t have their backs.”

NY State Estate Tax Refunds Due Gay Couples

Cuomo and U.S. Supreme Court Rule So

On July 23, 2013, Governor Andrew Cuomo stated that same-sex spouses who were forced to pay high New York estates when their partner died can now get refunds from the state if they filed amended estate tax returns.

The refunds are possible because of the June Supreme Court ruling that struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Because the Court declared that section unconstitutional, it granted the same rights to gay couples as heterosexual couples in terms of assets and lower tax costs under estate tax laws.

U.S. v. Windsor

The court decision came after Edie Windsor sued the Internal Revenue Service because, in her determined mind, it denied certain rights to same-sex couples that it granted to other wedded couples. Because of DOMA, the federal government did not recognize Edie Windsor’s same-sex legal marriage to Thea Spyer, her partner of forty years, in New York. When Spyer died in 2009, Edie was hit with a bill for $363,000 in federal estate taxes and more than $200,000 in state taxes. She paid the tax and then sued to get it back (U.S. v. Windsor).

The state of New York did recognize Windsor’s marriage. Same-sex marriages, under The Marriage Equality Act, were legal when Spyer died.  Signed into law in June 2011, gay marriage become legalized and a month later the IRS department extended equal rights under the estate tax law to legally married gay couples, even those married in other states before New York legalized gay marriage. However, the state could not extend the rights retroactively because of DOMA.  The Supreme Court’s DOMA ruling changed that issue.  

Happy Ending for Windsor and Countless Others

Windsor now has the same tax breaks as a married taxpayer, and is now due a tax refund from the IRS plus interest because she was forced to pay as a “single” taxpayer. She is hoping to receive a sizable refund from the state as well.

Filing for Refunds

Total amount of taxes that will be refunded?  New York has no estimate.

A claim for refund of an estate tax, in general, must be filed by a taxpayer within three years from the date the original return was filed or two years from the date the tax was paid.

The I.R.S. has said “we are reviewing the important June 26 Supreme Court decision on the Defense of Marriage Act.  We will be working with The Department of Treasury and Department of Justice, and we will move swiftly to provide revised guidance in the near future.”

First Gay Wedding in Pa. Despite State Ban

Five Gay Couples Get Montgomery Co. Marriage Licenses

Pennsylvania is the only northeastern state without same-sex marriages or civil unions yet that didn’t stop five couples in this suburb of Philadelphia from obtaining marriage licenses on July 24, 2013. The licenses were believed to be the first to same-sex couples where a 1996 Pennsylvania law defines marriage as a civil contract between a man and a woman.  Even same-sex marriages from other states are not honored in Pennsylvania.

But you might say that the five same-sex couples who married yesterday in Montgomery County were courted by the County Register of Wills, D. Bruce Hanes, and supported by Democratic Commissioners Josh Shapiro and Leslie Richards. “This was the right thing to do,” said Hanes. “Progress is an upward arc.”

Meet Terrizzi and Bloodgood

Alicia Terrizzi and Loreen Bloodgood of Pottsdam  had vacation plans until they read that Hanes was issuing same-sex marriage licenses despite the ban. They quickly ditched their vacation plans and got married in a park in front of a minister with their two young sons present. The officiating minister, the Rev .Craig Andrussier, who felt honored to perform the ceremony, called the vow exchange, “something they can tell their grandchildren about.” Next week, the couple have planned another ceremony with family and friends.

Claimed the forty-five year-old teacher Terrizzi, “we’re not setting out to be pioneers.  We don’t think our family is any different than anybody else.  We’ve been waiting a long time for this.” (Bloodgood, a forty year-old consultant. and Terrizzi, have been together for seventeen years).

The couple were preceded by Sasha E. Ballen and Diana L. Spagnuolo of Lower Merion, Pa. who married early that same morning.

And Ellen Toplin and Charlene Kurland

After twenty-two year together, Upper Darby residents Charlene Kurland, 69, and Ellen Toplin, a retired marketing executive, tied the knot.  They had previously been married to men and had children with them. “It was expected that I would marry a man, have children and have two cars in the suburbs,” says Kurland.  “I think it’s wonderful for young people today to be able to be who they are.”

And Marcus Saitschenko and James Goldstein

Another long-time couple, real estate agent Marcus Saitschenko, 52, of Philadelphia, and James Goldstein wed. Said Saitschenko, “ I feel like a full citizen today. “

The final couple to marry were Nicola M. Cuccinota and Tamara J. Davis, of Paoli in Chester County.

Marriages could be Nullified

There is uncertainty with these marriages.  They could be invalidated.  Attorney General Kathleen Kane will not defend the state ban, leaving it to Republican Governor Tom Corbett to decide.

Montgomery County Attorney District Risa Vetr Ferman said she would not criminally prosecute either Hanes nor the five couples who obtained the marriage licenses.  Says Ferman: “the register of wills can’t change the laws of this commonwealth by simply ignoring them. The change will be through the Pennsylvania courts or the Legislature.  I do not have jurisdiction over every law of the Commonwealth. Remedy for issuing an invalid marriage license does not include intervention by the Office of the District of the District Attorney.”

Presently, the American Civil Liberties Union is defending a lawsuit and asking a federal judge to overturn the law forbidding same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania.