As I celebrate my 6th wedding anniversary today I am delighted in the Ma court’s decision to support the equalization of my marriage with those of opposite-sex couples. I have long viewed the decision to call my union “a marriage” to be a thorn as I believe civil union is a better reserved title for same sex couples. And of course any decision made by judges in a legislative court that seems to grant rights to groups rubs me the wrong way. So my delight today is strictly on federal benefits that I believe I have earned as a U.S. citizen.
First, I have been a federal taxpayer for 38 years. I receive a quarterly statement that reads how much I would receive at specific ages and then directly underneath:
“You have earned enough credits for your family to receive survivors benefits. If you die this year, certain members of your family may qualify for the following benefits: your child, your spouse who is caring for your child, your spouse who reaches full retirement age, your spouse may be eligible for a special one-time death benefit.”
So after being together 25 years if I die before my spouse she would not receive any death benefits according to current federal law. That seems a bit crazy given that a heterosexual couple married for one day can result in this benefit granted based soley on gender.
2. My company permits health benefits for my spouse, not under Ma state recognition but under my domestic partnership status in NY state. Therefore while I am grateful she receives this benefit why should I pay more federal taxes than my heterosexual colleagues? Here again I have been employed by the same company for over 27 years and am likely the only same sex married employee.
3. At tax time, I file separately as an individual as opposed to filing jointly in Massachusetts. Again I am treated unequally in the eyes of the government.
So while I bask in today’s decision I understand that the US Government will likely overturn this based on all the federal issues that historically constituted families but I applaud Judge Tauro’s courage and cleverness in applying the Tenth Amendment to this case.