Tuesday, November 8, 2011


On Thursday the Senate Judiciary Committee will meet to consider the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA--enacted in 1996 to ban gay marriage on the federal level). While this is obviously an exciting step in the fight for equality, we shouldn't get too excited. DOMA is being challenged in court already, but House Republicans have pledged to continue to defend it despite (because of?) Obama's refusal to do so. In fact, they hired a fancy attorney who they're paying $575/hour, up to a max of $500,000. Classy, yes? I thought so too. The next time someone tells you their tax dollars shouldn't be used to pay for your partner's health benefits, I encourage you to cite this fact.

But I digress.

In honor of this new bill, I'd like to dedicate a blog post to the harm done by DOMA.

First of all, it arguably (read: does) violates the Full Faith and Credit clause of the U.S. Constitution, since it allows states to not recognize gay marriages performed in other states. Further, regardless of one's beliefs about state vs. federal rights to define marriage, the fact remains that DOMA precludes states from offering its residents full equal protection under the law. Gays who get married in a state that recognizes marriage equality are still unable to access the federal benefits and protections of marriage.

That brings me to the gigantic list of federal benefits gays will never have access to, regardless of how cool their state is, until DOMA is repealed. I've listed below the United States General Accounting Office's 2004 update (the most recent) on the statutory provisions involving marital status added to the United States Code in between 1996 and 2003. To clarify, this list only includes benefits that were ADDED to the existing list after DOMA was enacted. To date, there are a total of 1,138 federal benefits Linds and I cannot access. If that makes you angry, get involved with one of the many organizations working to push the Respect for Marriage Act.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

v  Child and Family Services/Aid : Definitions
v  Exclusion of certain individuals and entities from participation in Medicare and state health care programs
v  Recovery of SSI overpayments from other benefits
v  Benefits and beneficiary protections (Medicare)
v  Payments to Medicare + Choice organizations
v  Contracts with Medicare + Choice organizations
v  Public Health Service: Definitions
v  Public Health Service: Determinations; appeals
v  Programs for Older Americans : General Provisions-Nutrition
v  Programs for Older Americans : Definitions
v  Public Safety Officers’ Death Benefits
v  Grants to Combat Violent Crimes against Women
v  Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program
-          Compensation and benefits to be provided
-          Separate treatment of certain uranium employees
-          Treatment, Coordination, and Forfeiture of Compensation and Benefits
-          Exclusivity of remedy against the United States and against contractors and subcontractors
v  Grants for state domestic violence coalitions (Definitions)
v  National and Community Service State Grant Program : Administrative Provisions/Evaluation
v  National Affordable Housing : Definitions
v  Eligibility under first-time home-buyer programs
v  Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement/Violence against Women
-           Civil rights
-           Training provided by grants
v  Intercountry Adoptions
v  Veterans' Benefits
v  Hospital, Nursing Home, Domiciliary, and Medical Care: Extended care services
v  Medical care for survivors and dependents of certain veterans
v  Benefits for Children of Vietnam Veterans
v  Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance
-          Person insured; amount
-          Deductions; payment; investment; expenses
v  Burial Benefits : Headstones, markers, and burial receptacles
v  Transfer of entitlement to basic educational assistance:  members of the Armed Forces with critical military skills
v  Priority of service for veterans in Department of Labor job training programs
v  Waiver of recovery of claims by the United States
v  Prohibition on providing certain benefits with respect to persons who are fugitive felons
v  Veterans Outreach Services Program : definitions
v  Normal Taxes and Surtaxes
v  Determination of Tax Liability
v  Credits Against Tax
v  Nonrefundable Personal Credits
v  Child tax credit
v  Hope and lifetime learning credits
v  Tax imposed on individuals
v  Computation of Taxable Income
v  Items Specifically Excluded from Gross Income
v  Certain death benefits
v  Additional Itemized Deductions for Individuals
v  Medicare + Choice MSA
v  Interest on education loans
v  Pension, Profit-Sharing, Stock Bonus Plans, Etc.
v  Roth IRAs
v  Qualified tuition programs
v  Coverdell education savings accounts
v  Special Rules for Electing Large Partnerships
-           Other modifications
-           Electing large partnership defined
v  Treatment of property acquired by decedent dying after December 31, 2009
v  First-time home-buyer credit for District of Columbia
v  Taxable Estate
v  Family-owned business interests
v  Termination
v  Gift Tax
v  Transfers
v  Special rules for allocation of GST exemption
v  Returns and Records
v  Relief from joint and several liability on joint return
v  Returns of brokers
v  Agreements for payment of tax liability in installments
v  Tax Treatment of Partnership Items
v  Limitations on credit or refund
v  Government Organization and Employees
-          General Provisions
-          Merit system principles
o   Merit system principles
o    Prohibited personnel practices
v  Examination, Certification and Appointment
-           Civil service; generally
v  Relocation expenses of an employee who is performing an extended assignment
v  Overseas Differentials And Allowances
v  Long-term Care Insurance
-           Definitions
-           Availability of insurance
-           Contracting authority
v  Treatment of charitable trusts for members of the armed services and other governmental organizations
v  Quadrennial quality of life review
v  Health care coverage through federal employees’ health benefits program:  demonstration project
v  Annuities based on Retired or Retainer Pay
v  Survivor Benefit Plan
v  Election to discontinue participation:  one-year opportunity after second anniversary of commencement of payment of retired  pay                                                                                  
v  Military Child Care
v  Child care services and youth program services for dependents:  financial assistance for providers
v  Basic allowance for housing
v  Travel and transportation allowances:  dislocation allowance
v  Travel and transportation allowances:  transportation for survivors of deceased member to attend the member’s burial ceremonies
v  Family separation allowance
v  Workforce Investment Definitions
v  National emergency grants
v  Surface owner protection
v  Public Safety Officers' Death Benefits
v  Educational Assistance to Dependents of Civilian Federal Law Enforcement Officers Killed or Disabled in the Line of Duty
v  Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program
-           Compensation and benefits to be provided
-           Separate treatment of certain uranium employees
-           Exclusivity of remedy against the United States and against contractors and subcontractors
v  Admission Qualifications For Aliens; Travel Control of Citizens And Aliens
v  Requirements for sponsor’s affidavit of support
v  General classes of deportable aliens
v  Removal proceedings
v  Cancellation of removal; adjustment of status
v  Voluntary departure
v  Penalties for disclosure of information
v  Mail-order bride business
v  Restricting Welfare and Public Benefits for Aliens
v  Foreign student monitoring program
v  Bipartisan Trade Promotion 
v  United States—Chile Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
v  Indian Health Care Mental health services
v  Indian Land Consolidation
-          Descent and distribution
-           Trust and restricted land transactions
v  Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination
v  Housing Assistance for Native Hawaiians
v  Supportive housing for the elderly
v  Mortgage Insurance
-           Definitions
-           Rental housing insurance
-           Cooperative housing insurance
v  Bank Holding Companies
v  National Consumer Cooperative Bank : Eligibility of cooperatives
v  Aid to Small Business
v  Loans for plant acquisition, construction, conversion, and expansion
v  Consumer Credit Protection : Scope of prohibition
v  Agricultural Credit
-          Delta Regional Authority
-           Northern Great Plains Regional Authority
v  National Board on rural America
v  Crimes and family violence
v  General rules for civil forfeiture proceedings
v  Interstate stalking
v  Higher Education Resources and Student Assistance
v  Grants to combat violent crimes against women on campuses
v  Judiciary and Judicial Procedure : Certain acts, records, and proceedings and the effect thereof
v  Rural Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Enforcement
v  Education and Training for Judges and Court Personnel in State Courts
v  Transition to Teaching : Participation agreement and financial assistance
v  Native Hawaiian Education : Findings
Civil liability of the United States

No comments:

Post a Comment