Opinion Web Exclusive

IRS officially requires states to recognize tax benefits for same-sex couples

Years after the women’s and civil rights movements, there is still a battle for equality being fought. Same-sex marriage is a cause individuals, gay and straight, are fighting for every day.

Same-sex marriage is legal in 13 states, with California being the most recent state to join the movement. It is unfortunate that states that don’t allow same-sex marriage also don’t recognize the union of couples married in a state that does allow it, but there has been a breakthrough in this cause.

With the Defense of Marriage Act that was enacted in 1996, same-sex marriages were not recognized in states that do not support gay marriage and federal laws and programs would not apply to these couples.

Section 3 of DOMA, which states this law, has now been deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. States are still not required to recognize same-sex marriage, but they are now required to recognize the IRS benefits, such as health insurance, retirement, Social Security and veterans’ benefits.

With this change, same-sex couples have the freedom to move from the state where they were legally married to a different state without fear of tax liabilities.

Mechanical engineering freshman Gerardo Vasquez believes all 50 states will be on board at some point.

“Everything’s changing slowly, like having a black president and we will have a female president, I’m sure. Gay marriage will eventually be allowed everywhere,” Vasquez said.

The next step is for Section 2 of DOMA to be challenged, which would move toward allowing marriage between same-sex couples to be acknowledged in all 50 states. Same-sex couples shouldn’t have to travel to a different state to pledge to be together forever, only to go to another state and not be recognized as legal partners.

“My uncle is gay; he actually proposed two weeks ago to his significant other,” Vazquez said. “I see it as a normal thing, like it could have as easily been a woman or a man proposing to each other. It makes no difference to me.”

This viewpoint is one that other Cougars hold. At a campus as diverse as ours, acceptance, passion and tolerance can be found everywhere.

Human rights should not be dictated by sexual orientation, race or gender. Equal rights are something that everyone deserves and citizens will continue to fight for these rights until lawmakers discover love has no boundaries.

Kelly Schafler is a print journalism junior and may be reached at [email protected].


  • Unfortunately, the premise of this article is incorrect. The Supreme Court’s ruling striking down DOMA nor the IRS’s recent regulation require nothing of the states. These rulings affect only the manner in which same-sex marriage partners are treated under Federal law and for purposes of Federal benefits and tax obligations.

    The IRS ruling actually creates some procedural problems for many states that do not recognize same-sex marriages performed in states that do. Most state tax codes use the Federal tax return, Form 1040, as the starting point for calculating a taxpayer’s state income tax liability. When a same-sex couple files a joint Federal return, that will create problems for the state that does not recognize their marriage, hence their right to file a joint return. States are going to have to figure out a way around that dilemna.

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