Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Bennies

A lot was at stake for married gay couples in today's ruling that DOMA was unconstitutional. Ciara McCarthy and Mariana Zepeda have a list in Slate: Married people can:

  •  Inherit a spouse’s estate without paying taxes. This was the issue at the heart of the DOMA case, Windsor v. United States. Edith Windsor had to pay estate taxes after her wife died, which the Supreme Court judged to be unconstitutional. She’ll get a refund. 
  • File jointly for bankruptcy, eliminating the debt for both spouses. 
  • Qualify to take leave to care for a spouse with a serious medical condition if the job is protected under the Family and Medical Leave Act. 
  • Under spousal testimonial privilege, one spouse can’t be forced to testify against the other in court. 
  • File joint tax returns. In some cases this will increase the couple’s tax bill; in other cases it will decrease it, as Matt Yglesias pointed out this morning. 
  • Get divorced. 
  • Deduct alimony payments from federal income tax. 
  • Qualify for Medicare based on a spouse’s employment. 
  • Qualify for health plans under the Federal Employees Health Benefits program if one spouse is a member of the uniformed services.
And more.

No doubt this will give considerable momentum to State efforts at full legalization.