“After DOMA: What it Means For You” LGBT Organizations Fact Sheet Series now available
In the wake of the US Supreme Court’s historic decision to strike down Section Three of the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), 11 national LGBT advocacy organizations jointly issued a series of factsheets to provide guidance to same-sex couples and their families as they navigate accessing federal rights, benefits, and protections
The fact sheet series details many of the ways federal agencies accord legal respect to married same-sex couples. The guide includes 14 factsheets on the following topics: Bankruptcy, Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), Federal Employee Benefits, Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Immigration,Medicaid, Medicare, Military Spousal Benefits, Private Employment Benefits, Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, Taxes, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and Veteran Spousal Benefits.
You can find the fact sheet series here: www.thetaskforceblog.org
Here are some excerpts from the series:
This historic decision takes effect in 25 days.
If you live in a state that discriminates against married same-sex couples, you should be aware that the Supreme Court decision striking down part of the federal so-called Defense of Marriage Act does NOT mean that your state must respect your marriage or that you will be eligible for all marriage-based federal benefits. Further work is still required to end marriage discrimination nationwide and to secure both state and federal equal treatment for all marriages.
The Supreme Court’s ruling in Windsor applies only to the federal government. It does not change discriminatory state laws excluding same-sex couples from state-conferred marriage rights.
The ruling striking down DOMA will not be effective until 25 days from the decision. Even when effective, federal agencies—large bureaucracies—may need and take some time to change forms,
implement procedures, train personnel, and efficiently incorporate same-sex couples into the spousal-based system.
Until same-sex couples can marry in every state in the nation, there will be uncertainty about the extent to which same-sex spouses will receive federal marital-based protections nationwide. For federal programs that assess marital status based on the law of a state that does not respect marriages of same-sex couples, those state laws will likely pose obstacles for legally married couples and surviving spouses in accessing federal protections and responsibilities.
Securing fair access to federal protections that come with marriage for all same-sex couples in the nation will take some time and work. In some situations, it may require Congressional action or formal rule-making by agencies.
Before making a decision, it is essential that you consult an attorney for individualized legal advice. This is particularly important for people who are on certain public benefits, as getting married may jeopardize your eligibility without providing you the full measure of protections other married couples enjoy. In addition, couples who travel to another place to marry and then return to live in a state that does not respect their marriage may be unfairly unable
to obtain a divorce, which can lead to serious negative legal and financial consequences. People must make careful decisions when and where to marry.