Equality NC: "Enormous victory" over federal DOMA, but discrimination remains the rule in N.C. | Citizen | Indy Week

Equality NC: "Enormous victory" over federal DOMA, but discrimination remains the rule in N.C.

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  • Equality NC

[Update, 1:45 p.m.: Feel like celebrating? Equality NC is hosting a Decision Day event tonight in Raleigh:

TIME AND DATE:
Wednesday, June 26, at 8 PM
Pullen Memorial Baptist Church
1801 Hillsborough St Raleigh, NC 27605

Still much to do in North Carolina.]

Equality North Carolina, the LGBT rights group, has a statement out about the U.S. Supreme Court ruling today that makes two good points: (1) The wicked witch called DOMA is dead, and (2) its death matters most in states where same-sex unions are recognized — but North Carolina, because of Amendment One, is prevented from recognizing them.

[I've added the other side's view of it below — a statement by Tami Fitzgerald of the NC Values Coalition, which is pro-Amendment One and anti-gay marriage.]

As Equality NC says:

For thousands of married lesbian and gay couples, today’s ruling means that they can better protect one another and their children because they will finally be included in the federal safety net of rights and benefits afforded married couples.

Nevertheless, for those legally married same-sex couples who have moved to — or now live in — a state such as North Carolina that discriminates against their marriages, legal experts believe access to those federal marital protections may still be in question.

“For most of the federal benefits that people think about when they talk about marriage, the government will only recognize a marriage if it is legal in the state where the couple lives,” said UNC Law Professor Holning Lau in his recent article, “Same Sex Marriage and States Like Mine” (http://www.acslaw.org/acsblog/same-sex-marriage-and-states-like-mine.)

To take one obvious example, I don't think a same-sex couple living in North Carolina but married, say, in New York, will be able to file federal income tax returns and check the "married filing jointly" box.

Although they can certainly try, and that may be the next test case for the courts.

If they tried to file as married for state income tax purposes, Amendment One would undoubtedly cause the N.C. Department of Revenue to say no, you're not.

***

Here's the full Equality NC statement:


Raleigh, N.C. — Equality NC, North Carolina’s statewide Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) advocacy organization, today responded to the U.S. Supreme Court’s holding in U.S. v. Windsor to strike down Section 3 of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” or DOMA.

The ruling means all legally married couples, including same-sex couples, should also be treated as married by the federal government. Same-sex couples who are married and living in one of the 12 states recognizing same-sex marriages, or the District of Columbia, will now be eligible for the federal protections and responsibilities afforded all other married couples.

“This is an enormous victory and a joyous day for loving, married couples and their families — and for equal justice under the law,” said Stuart Campbell, executive director of Equality NC. “Today, the Supreme Court affirmed that all loving and committed couples who marry deserve equal legal respect and treatment.”
Since its enactment in 2006, DOMA’s two-tiered system for marriage was a radical departure from the way in which the United States had always treated the institution, forcing the federal government to pick and choose among marriages and discriminate against certain types of families, creating a “gay exception” that caused pain, uncertainty, and financial harm.

For thousands of married lesbian and gay couples, today’s ruling means that they can better protect one another and their children because they will finally be included in the federal safety net of rights and benefits afforded married couples.

Nevertheless, for those legally married same-sex couples who have moved to — or now live in — a state such as North Carolina that discriminates against their marriages, legal experts believe access to those federal marital protections may still be in question.

“For most of the federal benefits that people think about when they talk about marriage, the government will only recognize a marriage if it is legal in the state where the couple lives,” said UNC Law Professor Holning Lau in his recent article, “Same Sex Marriage and States Like Mine” (http://www.acslaw.org/acsblog/same-sex-marriage-and-states-like-mine.)

Campbell added, “With this decision adding to a tidal wave of momentum for marriage, we will continue working to win the freedom to marry here at home by pursuing the same strategy that has brought us to this historic day: growing a majority of support for marriage equality — as well as all forms of LGBT equality - in North Carolina.”

Equality NC is a statewide organization working to secure equal rights and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender North Carolinians.

And, from the political right, this is from Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the NC Values Coalition:


"Today the Supreme Court upheld the right of states to determine marriage policy. The Supreme Court did not declare a universal right to same-sex marriage, and it did not strike down Prop 8—California’s marriage amendment. We are thankful that North Carolina's marriage amendment is not immediately impacted by the ruling. Citizens in the 50 states are still free to debate, discuss, and defend marriage.

"We did the right thing in passing our Marriage Amendment last year, and North Carolina has one of the strongest marriage amendments in the country.

"However, the Supreme Court got it wrong. On the federal DOMA case, the Supreme Court got federalism wrong. Congress should have the authority to define marriage for federal programs just as states do. On Prop 8, the Court got it wrong because the people of California went to the ballot box twice to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and they should have the right to defend their own law.

"The Supreme Court's ruling does not impact North Carolina's marriage amendment or the 36 other states that have protected marriage as the union of one man and one woman. A little over a year ago, 61% of the voters in our state passed our marriage amendment, expressing their will at the ballot box through the democratic process. If there are any future challenges to North Carolina's marriage amendment, it is the job of our Attorney General, under the state's Constitution, to defend it."

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