It’s been a busy few days for LGBT equality gains. A federal judge ruled same-sex couples can receive veteran benefits. The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service announced that same-gender couples legally married in states that recognize such will be seem as married, for federal tax purposes, even if they do not reside in a state that recognizes their marriage. The Department of Health and Human Services will apply the same kind of recognizing in determining Medicare benefits. And in New Mexico, a series of decisions by advocates (to sue and/or show up at county offices, requesting a marriage license), county officials (some started issuing such licenses), and judges have brought marriage equality to six counties.
The Treasury Department and IRS made the announcement about the federal taxes ruling
… that same-sex couples, legally married in jurisdictions that recognize their marriages, will be treated as married for federal tax purposes. The ruling applies regardless of whether the couple lives in a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage or a jurisdiction that does not recognize same-sex marriage.
The decision, as well as those related to veteran and Medicare benefits and recognition of marriage equality in New Mexico, follow the Supreme Court ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act.
More from Buzzfeed: (emphasis added throughout)
The move means states that ban same-sex couples from marrying will nonetheless have to deal directly with married same-sex couples living in their states come tax time “” putting pressure on executive officials, lawmakers and courts to address the issue, whether they want to or not.
The New Civil Rights Movement adds to the IRS report the news coming from HHS.
… (T)he Department of Health and Human Services … announced it will recognize all legal marriages “” including same-sex marriages “” based on the “˜place of celebration’ “” based on where a couple is married “” to determine Medicare benefits eligibility.
In other words, the federal government is making it clear that same-sex marriages are no different from opposite-sex marriages, and it will recognize them all equally, regardless of how the couple’s home state behaves.
Regarding veteran benefits, at Buzzfeed:
Finding no rational basis for the definitions in Title 38 of the U.S. Code that limit provision of veterans’ benefits to opposite-sex couples, (federal) Judge Consuelo B. Marshall found those statutes unconstitutional “” echoing the Supreme Court’s ruling earlier this summer striking down part of the Defense of Marriage Act.
NBC News adds this:
The VA is the defendant in several lawsuits over its assertion that the Supreme Court’s decision in June striking down the Defense of Marriage Act didn’t apply to it.
Judge Marshall’s ruling says the VA is wrong: DOMA is gone, and that includes for the VA.
And in New Mexico, it’s becoming more and more evident that the tactic being employed in more and more states where marriage equality doesn’t yet exist ““ same-sex couples showing up at county offices and requesting a marriage license ““ is one of the things that will be key in the ongoing efforts. At the Santa Fe New Mexican
Taos becomes sixth county to issue same-sex marriage licenses … .
State District Judge Jeff McElroy ruled Tuesday that Taos County Clerk Anna Martinez must issue a gay couple a marriage license or present a legal argument why she should not.
Taos County joins San Miguel, Valencia, Bernalillo, Santa Fe and Dona Ana. The New Mexican reports that “most clerks in the state’s rural counties” are not “changing their policies,” but at least based on the interviews with some of those clerks, it sounds as if they expect the changes to, in fact, come.
Los Alamos County Clerk Sharon Stover and Sandoval County Eileen Garbagni told The New Mexican they would not be issuing licenses to same-sex couples until they receive a court order.
But Garbagni added, “˜I’m sure eventually, I’ll be doing it.’
“˜Not yet,’ Union County Clerk Mary Lou Harkin told The Associated Press. “˜We’ve had a couple calls “¦ but I am going to hold off for now, until I get a court order or other direction.’
But more court orders could be in the works as a number of clerks around the state said they had received calls from a man saying he planned to show up and seek a same-sex license and would file a lawsuit if denied.
There are other things happening, in addition to these federal and state level actions. As one last example, via EDGE:
Gov. Neil Abercrombie on Wednesday presented state lawmakers with a draft of legislation that would legalize gay marriage in Hawaii.
Abercrombie said he isn’t calling a special session, but this decision ““ not surprising ““ is an obvious big step toward equality for Hawaii.
Keep watching for the steps. They’ll keep being made, around the nation. And from the further to the Right crowd, you’ll keep hearing more and more about how oppressed they are. Somehow other people getting the rights they already have means they’re being persecuted.