- June 26, 2013
Post submitted by Charlie Joughin, HRC Press Secretary
Today HRC President Chad Griffin spoke by phone with Attorney General Eric Holder who reiterated to Griffin that the Department of Justice will go through a thorough and thoughtful process in order to implement the Supreme Court’s decision today in the Windsor decision regarding the Defense of Marriage Act.
“I applaud the leadership of President Obama and Attorney General Holder in beginning the process to put today’s historic decision into effect. We would not be at this pivotal moment if it had not been for the President’s support and commitment to full equality,” said Griffin. “We are committed to working with the administration to ensure that the greatest number of lesbian and gay couples are afforded the greatest number of federal benefits as quickly as possible. Today’s victory is not complete until every family is guaranteed complete access to the protections they need regardless of state borders.”
In Windsor v. U.S., Edie Windsor challenged section 3 of DOMA which required her to pay $363,000 in estate taxes after her partner and spouse of more than 40 years passed away. If Edie had been married to a man, instead of a woman, it is undisputed that her estate tax bill would have been zero. The Supreme Court decided in her favor ruling DOMA unconstitutional.
Lawfully-married couples living in marriage equality states will soon have equal access to all the federal rights and benefits based on marital status. For married couples living in states without marriage equality, there is less clarity. Even with DOMA out of the way, different federal programs have different rules that determine where an agency looks to decide if a marriage is valid – either place of celebration or place of residence. Most of these rules are policies, regulations or simply practices that the Obama Administration can change through existing processes to ensure that married same-sex couples, wherever they may live, have access to the federal rights and benefits they deserve. Under the current rules and practices, a lawfully-married same-sex couple living in a state that does not recognize their marriage will have access to some federal rights and benefits, but may not immediately have access to many others.