June 26, 2013
It is said there are over 1,000 federal benefits for married couples that my wife and I might be able to enjoy now that we are a federally recognized married couple.
I am hoping striking down DOMA means that we can travel more freely in the United States, knowing that if one of us were to become sick or be injured and require hospitalization, we can make decisions about each others care. Nothing is scarier than being at the mercy of people who do not support your relationship who have the power over your healthcare decisions. Now my wife and I will have the ability to make the most loving decisions on behalf of each other’s well being anywhere in the US. We can no longer be denied the ability to say which meds are ok, which treatment plan or surgery or end of life care is appropriate. Making Healthcare decisions is a right afforded every married couple in the United States. Now it will be afforded us as well. We can travel with peace of mind.
We can hold hands anywhere in the US. I am hoping that one day when my wife reaches for my hand anywhere in the country, there will come a time, when I do not have to say to her, “not here, I don’t think it’s safe to hold my hand here.” Because DOMA was struck down, I feel safer knowing the Federal Government has our back. Our love is more recognized, more universal, more welcome, more a part of the human condition.
There are other benefits that I am hoping will follow. These are just a few of them:
— Survivors’ benefits: DOMA barred gay and lesbian couples from many entitlement and welfare programs, including doles tied to Social Security. Same-sex spouses will now be eligible for Social Security survivors’ benefits upon the death of a partner, among other forms of assistance, according to a December 2012 report by the Human Rights Campaign.
— Tax-free employee health insurance: Federal law has lagged behind the almost 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies who offer tax-free employer-provided health benefits to domestic partners. Health coverage for the spouses of gay and lesbian employees will now be available without any taxable strings attached.
— IRS perks: Gay and lesbian couples have historically faced a higher tax burden than traditional couples, according to M.V. Lee Badgett, the Research Director at the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at UCLA. Same-sex spouses can now claim a host of perks, from estate tax exemptions to head of household deductions. What’s more, same-sex spouses can file tax returns jointly, avoiding additional strain on wallets.
— Emergency leave: Present law does not offer gay and lesbian employees time off from work to tend to a domestic partner or that partner’s family member, according to the Human Rights Campaign. But the guarantees provided by the Family and Medical Leave Act will soon become available to same-sex spouses.
— Green cards and visas: There are an estimated 28,500 binational same-sex couples — meaning one partner is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and one isn’t — but DOMA did not allow the former to petition for the latter to immigrate, according to the Williams Institute. But gays and lesbians may now lobby the federal government for green cards or visas for a non-Amer