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Posts Tagged ‘relationship recognition’

A Full Circle on Marriage

September 21st, 2011

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In the fall of 1996, social conservatives in Washington, DC, pushed and passed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a law that defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman under federal law. It was signed—15 years ago this week—by a Democratic President who was considered the most gay-friendly in history. And its passage was meant to end the debate on marriage for gay couples once and for all. A decade and a half later, gay couples in six states and DC can marry, and more than a dozen other states provide civil unions or some other form of recognition for their relationships. What explains this fundamental shift?

First, public opinion has swung rapidly and remarkably in favor of gay couples. Support for allowing gay couples to marry has doubled since 1996, from 27 percent to 53 percent. This reflects a greater warming of Americans toward their gay and lesbian neighbors. Only 42 percent said they personally knew a gay person when DOMA passed, compared to 77 percent today. And in this case, familiarity did not breed contempt. Today, fully two-thirds of the country would use the word “family” to describe a gay couple with a child—in the DOMA days it was just 29 percent. Read the rest of this entry »

Eliminating the Tax Penalty on Gay-Friendly Businesses

September 12th, 2011

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Our corporate tax code dates back to 1986, before the internet and when China was “red.” It is hopelessly out of date with the goings on of the rest of the world, but there is one area where it is completely antiquated with changes in America: dealing with employee benefits for gay couples.

There are nearly one million gay couples living in the United States, according to the Census Bureau. Today, jurisdictions allowing gay couples to either marry or form legal unions are now home to about 150 million people—up from less than 15 million people fifteen years ago. And two-thirds of Fortune 1000 companies provide benefits like health care to gay couples. But if companies provide these benefits under the same tax formulation as they would for straight married couples, they are in violation of the law—and so are their employees.

Here’s the problem. While employer-provided health care is treated as a tax-free benefit for everyone else, the IRS counts it as taxable income for gay domestic partners and spouses. That means businesses like Target, IBM, and Nabisco who provide coverage to partners of their gay employees must go back and add “imputed income” to their employees’ pay stubs for the cost of that benefit. Read the rest of this entry »

Then & Now: How the State of Relationship Recognition Has Changed Since DOMA

August 4th, 2011

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This piece was originally posted on The Huffington Post.

As gay couples begin to marry in New York, Third Way’s newest report details the seismic shift in our country since the passage of DOMA 15 years ago. There are many striking contrasts that illustrate this evolution, but one incredible change is this: in 1996 only 5% of the country lived in a state or locality that recognized gay couples’ relationships–now 46% do. Read the rest of this entry »