Friday, December 19, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Gay married couples have rights to federal benefits

By
From page A12 | June 30, 2013 |

The issue: Progress isn’t always marked by trumpets and flowers

It is probably quintessentially American that a landmark Supreme Court ruling on a question of morality originated in a dispute over federal taxes.

PERHAPS Edith Windsor didn’t intend to upset a cultural and religious tradition that had stood largely unquestioned for hundreds of years. Maybe she only wanted her $363,035 back.

Instead she gave her name, “United States v. Windsor,” to a case that, while it won’t make same-sex marriage legal everywhere, goes a long way toward making such marriages common and unremarked upon.

Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer, who married in 2007 in Toronto, where gay marriage was legal, lived in New York. When Speyer died shortly thereafter, she left her estate to her partner, who applied for the spousal exemption from estate taxes. The federal government, which did not recognize same-sex unions, denied Windsor her refund.

In 1996, a conservative Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act, better known by its acronym DOMA, which defined marriage as between one man and one woman. The act denied to homosexual couples who had been married in states where such unions were legal something like 1,000 federal benefits available to traditionally married couples: joint tax returns, Social Security, health insurance, pension rights, benefits for military couples and immigration protections among them.

THE FIVE JUSTICES who voted to overturn the law spanned the court’s ideological divide. They were stinging in their opinion, writing, “DOMA writes inequality into the entire U.S. Code.”

Swing-vote Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, said, “DOMA’s avowed purpose and practical effect are to impose a disadvantage, a separate status, and so a stigma upon all who enter into same-sex marriages made lawful by the unquestioned authority of the States.”

In essence, it violated the Equal Protection Clause, but what the court did not do, a point seemingly lost in the excitement following the decision, was legalize same-sex marriage nationally. Same-sex marriage is legal in 12 states (soon to be 13 with the addition of California) and the District of Columbia. And while most other states may legalize it over time, some states likely never will. But the law is now such that they cannot legally hinder such couples.

The court also threw out California’s anti-gay marriage Proposition 8, a ballot initiative amendment to the state constitution, on a technicality. A California court nullified the proposition and the state refused to defend it on appeal.

Attorneys for backers of Proposition 8 attempted to continue the appeal, but the high court ruled that they had no standing to do so, having suffered no harm or wrong. The court said a “generalized grievance — no matter how sincere — is insufficient to confer standing.”

IF A TAX DISPUTE seems an unlikely turning point for the gay rights movement, consider that the movement got its start in even more mundane circumstances: a 1969 riot outside the Stonewall Inn, a seedy New York gay bar. Progress is not always marked by trumpets and flowers.

Comments

comments

.

News

 
UCD, UC team up to study effects of climate change

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Teens’ goal? Helping other soccer players around the world

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
There’s a plate for you at the Davis Holiday Meal

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Help sought in search for runaway Davis teen

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

 
Feds release ‘framework’ to rate colleges

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Gunfire leads to DUI arrest

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

 
Police seek suspect in hit-and-run collision

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

 
Sierra Club calendars on sale Saturday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Creative women share food, friendship

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Welcome 2015 with Mumbo Gumbo at a gala bash

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Willett bench is a labor of love

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A4

 
Author! Author! UCD hosts talks, Q and A on Asia-focused books

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

Blue Christmas service planned at Davis churches

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
See diving ducks at city wetlands tour

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Libraries will be closed around the holidays

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Downtown gift cards get a new perk

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

 
Meditation, Buddhism classes offered

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

Nobel Prize winner will discuss research related to autism

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

 
A home for the holidays?

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8 | Gallery

Traditional carols service is Saturday at St. Martin’s

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
Explorit: Experience nano this spring

By Lisa Justice | From Page: A9 | Gallery

Donate to STEAC at Original Steve’s

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
Grandmothers support group meets weekly

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11, 1 Comment

.

Forum

He needs them to pay up

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A14

Cheers and Jeers: Have you ever seen the rain?

By Our View | From Page: A14

 
Defeating Ebola involves medicine, and prayers

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A14 | Gallery

Kudos to Central Park Gardens donors and volunteers

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A14

 
.

Sports

Cousins is back in lineup but Kings fall

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Devil boys hold off scrappy Rio Linda

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Lady Blue Devils rout an undefeated Liberty squad

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
UCD RB coach Wright heads to Florida; what next?

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

Aggies nab junior college defensive lineman

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
Nostra-Dunning makes his college bowl picks

By Bob Dunning | From Page: B2

Tennyson’s first goal is the difference in Sharks win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6 | Gallery

 
.

Features

Name droppers: Trio elected to academy of inventors

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
.

Arts

 
DMTC announces auditions for ‘Sweeney Todd’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A15

 
‘Before Midnight’ screening is tonight

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A15

DMTC plans New Year’s Eve party

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A15

 
Tom Rigney and Flambeau to play

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A15

 
.

Business

After 19 years, Alfa Romeo returns

By Ann M. Job | From Page: A16

 
.

Obituaries

Rena Sylvia Smilkstein

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

 
.

Comics