After the Supreme Court overturned the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, certain benefits were extended to married same-sex couples regardless of their state of residence. President Obama said at the time that there were two possible standards for determining marital status, place of residence and place of ceremony. he hoped that the latter definition would be used, extending marital protections to legally married couples regardless of where they currently reside.
And this is in fact the standard many agencies have been using. For example, the State Department recently began issuing visas to married same-sex couples, and DHS stopped deportation proceedings against legal spouses regardless of their state of residence.
But an article in the Washington Blade demonstrates that this is not what is happening for every agency.
For example, the Social Security Administration is putting a hold on applications where the applicants do not live in a state with marriage equality. Likewise, married couples will still have to pay state inheritance taxes should one spouse die if they live in a state without marriage equality. And the family medical leave act may not apply to couples who don't live in marriage equality states.
All of these issues can be dealt with by a simple policy change, and hopefully it will happen soon. But it isn't there yet. This affects us directly. We are currently residents of Virginia, which has a constitutional ban on our marriage. So if I died, my wife couldn't claim my body and make burial decisions for me. She would have to pay inheritance taxes on our home, and she would not be able to claim my social security.
And this is why we are moving to Maryland. With any luck, we will close on our new home in a couple weeks and soon thereafter be able to establish Maryland residency. And Virginia will have lost two taxpayers.
And we are the lucky ones. Because we work for an agency based in D.C., it is easy for us to say fine, we will just move across the border. Others aren't so lucky. Their jobs tie them to place, whether by virtue of being unable to work at the same job in another location or unable to afford to move.
We need to fix this for them. For the country. So we can all be full citizens.
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