The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released a new YouTube video designed to provide useful tax tips to married same-sex couples. While it may look like it’s something the 80s left behind and doesn’t want back, could this new tool actually be useful?
According to the news release we received from the White House Office of Communications, the video is the latest addition to an online library featuring short IRS instructional videos covering more than 100 topics ranging from tips for victims of identity theft to taking advantage of the new simplified home office deduction. These videos have been viewed more than seven million times.
Following last summer’s Supreme Court decision invalidating a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the IRS ruled that same-sex couples, legally married in jurisdictions that recognize their marriages, are now treated as married for federal tax purposes. The ruling applies to all federal tax provisions where marriage is a factor, including filing status, claiming personal and dependency exemptions, taking the standard deduction, employee benefits, contributing to an IRA and claiming the earned income tax credit or child tax credit.
Take a look at the video and let us know: is it helpful to your family and situation?
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Photo Credit: Money Blog Newz
Wednesday a federal judge in San Antonio joined judges in Utah, Ohio, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Virginia in ruling that bans on same-sex couples marrying or recognizing out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples are unconstitutional.
“Today the 6th federal judge in a row has ruled – in Texas – that there is simply no legitimate justification for denying marriage to loving gay and lesbian couples,” said Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry.
“The court’s holding is solid and serious, and follows the language and logic of the Supreme Court’s marriage ruling last year and the Constitution’s clear command. With 47 marriage cases in 25 states now moving forward, and the possibility that a freedom to marry case will again reach the Supreme Court as soon as 2015, we must continue the conversations and progress – Texan to Texan, American to American – that show that all of America is ready for the freedom to marry,” Wolfson added.
Kenneth D. Upton, Senior Counsel in Lambda Legal’s South Central Regional Office in Dallas, said: “The yellow rose of Texas has a distinctly rainbow hue today. That the judge in this case saw fit to issue a preliminary injunction preventing Texas state officials from enforcing the discriminatory marriage bans illustrates his belief that the state was unlikely to prevail at trial. As important, this ruling extends the impressive run of recent victories that have stretched from Utah to Virginia. The walls of exclusion continue to crumble as court after court after court recognizes that denying marriage to same-sex couples is discrimination, pure and simple.”
Upton added, “Congratulations to the attorneys in this case – Barry A. Chasnoff, Daniel McNeel Lane, Jr., Jessica M. Weisel, Matthew E. Pepping, and Michael P. Cooley of the firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, as well as San Antonio Attorney Frank Stenger-Castro – and to the plaintiffs. We look forward to the continued progress of this case and to the continued march towards justice for LGBT individuals and their families across Texas.”
The Public Research Religion Institute released data Wednesday that showed increased support for the freedom to marry in the South and in Texas. Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of Southern millennials support the freedom to marry, and support across the South is split, with 48 percent in support and 48 percent opposed. Support has grown the fastest in the South of any region in the country, more than doubling in the last 10 years. In Texas, support is split, with 48 percent of Texans in support and 49 percent opposed.
On Monday, Freedom to Marry launched a public education campaign called Southerners for the Freedom to Marry, with the goal of building majority support for marriage in Southern states, including Texas.
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Congrats Utah! Same-Sex marriage still stands and couples are getting married in Utah as we speak. Another exciting win for same sex couples around the country.
Illinois is set to become the 15th state in the nation to provide same-sex couples the freedom to marry.
On Tuesday, the Illinois House of Representatives voted 61-54 to approve the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, affirming the freedom to marry for all same-sex couples in the state. The bill passed the state Senate in February and will soon go to Governor Pat Quinn, who has expressed strong support for marriage and will sign it into law.
“It’s a fabulous day for Illinois! The Illinois House of Representatives finally made legal what the majority of Illinoisans have long understood–that love is love and all families deserve to be treated as equal under the law,” said Jim Bennett, Midwest Regional Director of Lambda Legal. “Same-sex couples and their children can celebrate a new era of equality in the Land of Lincoln. With the 5th most populous state in the union embracing the freedom to marry, we have moved much closer to bringing equality to all Americans. This victory will be a catalyst in our ongoing efforts to achieve full equality across all fifty states.”
“This was an enormous group effort and along with the leadership from the House, Senate and Governor’s office we’d like to thank our colleagues at the ACLU of Illinois, Equality Illinois, all of the members of the Illinois Unites for Marriage campaign and advocates from across the state who called, wrote letters and made visits to their elected officials,” added Bennett.
“Today’s vote by the Illinois House means the Land of Lincoln will be our nation’s 15th freedom to marry state. This is great news for the thousands of committed same-sex couples in Illinois who will now be able to make the ultimate vow before their friends and family, protected and supported by their marriage,” said Freedom to Marry’s national campaign director, Marc Solomon.
President Barack Obama released a statement following the passage of marriage equality in Illinois. It read:
Tonight, I applaud the men and women of the Illinois General Assembly, a body in which I was proud to serve, for voting to legalize marriage equality in my home state.
As President, I have always believed that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally under the law. Over time, I also came to believe that same-sex couples should be able to get married like anyone else. So tonight, Michelle and I are overjoyed for all the committed couples in Illinois whose love will now be as legal as ours – and for their friends and family who have long wanted nothing more than to see their loved ones treated fairly and equally under the law.
I also commend the members of the General Assembly for approaching this issue in a fair and open way, and for recognizing the importance of our commitment to religious freedom by engaging the religious community in this conversation. Throughout this debate, they’ve made it clear that this is about civil marriages and civil laws, and made sure that churches and other institutions of faith are still free to make their own decisions that conform to their own teachings.
As I said in my Inaugural Address last January, our journey as a nation is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. And tonight, I’m so proud that the men and women elected to serve the people of the great state of Illinois have chosen to take us one step further on that journey to perfect our union.
The National Equality Action Team (NEAT), a project chaired by Marriage Equality USA, provided support to Illinois Unites for Marriage. In the spring of 2013, NEAT volunteers in New York City and across the country had 1812 conversations with constituents in Illinois. This fall they had an additional 1900 conversations with Illinois voters which resulted in 700 calls to undecided Illinois representatives.
“I am so proud of the work MEUSA and our partners in the Illinois coalition accomplished! The dedication this summer to redoubling efforts, reevaluating strategy, and expanding our work has paid off for thousands of LGBT families in the Land of Lincoln,” stated MEUSA Executive Director Brian Silva.
Among the active members of the NEAT Illinois campaign were the National Organization for Women (NOW) and the Triangle, North Carolina chapter of the Human Rights Campaign.
NOW Action Vice President Bonnie Grabenhofer reported, “With training and support provided by Marriage Equality USA, NOW members from all over the country were able to have conversations with Illinois voters in the districts of undecided representatives. Those Illinois voters then left messages for their representatives urging them to support the marriage equality bill.”
NEAT held phone banks for Illinois Unites for Marriage in 27 different locations. Physical phone banks for Illinois were held in 3 states and remote phone banking was done from the homes of people in 18 different states. Key leaders in the Triangle (NC) Chapter of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) set up an in-person phone bank in Raleigh with MEUSA’s assistance.
Carson Fernandez, Triangle Chapter of the Human Rights Campaign, added, “Although North Carolina voters approved a constitutional amendment that prohibits our state from recognizing any kind of union other than heterosexual marriage, many of us doubled our efforts to help Illinois win the freedom to marry.”
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Married Americans spend more than those in any other marital status category, across age groups. Americans who have never married spend significantly less, particularly for those younger than 50, suggesting that if the marriage rate increases, overall spending in the U.S. may increase and benefit the U.S. economy.
Married Americans report a daily spending average of $102, followed by $98 among those who are living in domestic partnerships, $74 by divorced Americans, $67 by those who are single and never married, and $62 by those who are widowed. As shown in the accompanying graph, across all age groups, those who are married spend more than those of other marital statuses.
Gallup asked Americans to report how much money they spent the prior day, excluding payments for normal household bills and major purchases such as homes or cars. The figure gives an estimate of discretionary spending. The current analysis is based on January through September 2013 Gallup Daily tracking interviews with more than 130,000 U.S. adults.
These results suggest that if more Americans are married, and fewer are single/never married, overall spending might increase. Similarly, if more Americans are in domestic partnerships and fewer are single, that too would appear to be related to higher spending.
The Relevance of Income
Married Americans spend more than the average American in part because they have higher-than-average incomes. Single Americans spend less, at least in part because they have lower-than-average incomes. Those in domestic partnerships spend almost as much as those who are married but have lower average incomes, similar to single Americans’ incomes, suggesting that domestic partners in some sense overspend what would be predicted from their incomes alone. This hypothesis is supported by additional research showing that those in domestic partnerships have a relatively high rate of spending when income and other demographic factors are controlled for.
The U.S. marriage rate has declined in recent years, but recent Gallup analysis shows that it is possible that the marriage rate in the United States will go up in the future, based on a pent-up demand for marriage. Based on the spending habits of married Americans compared with their single counterparts who have never married, such a change could be expected to give a boost to the economy, if those marriages come from the ranks of those who are single/never married. Similarly, an increase in the percentage of Americans living in domestic partnerships as opposed to being single would have an apparently positive impact on the economy. If, however, Americans in the future become less likely to jump from single status to marriage and more likely to move into domestic partnerships, the impact on the economy would be less significant.
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In June, the Supreme Court declared Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional thereby allowing the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages performed in the current states where it is legal. This sea change in the recognition of same-sex marriages has led to significant new changes in public attitudes with strong implications for the American economy and workplaces. In a new Harris Poll released Thursday and commissioned by Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, nearly half (49 percent) of gay and lesbian adults would consider changing jobs if their employer required them to transfer to a state where same-sex marriages were not recognized, compared to just 30 percent last year.
The new survey also reveals that two-thirds (67 percent) of all Americans today, regardless of their feelings of approval or disapproval, believe that marriage equality is “inevitable everywhere in the U.S.”
“With the end of DOMA and our recovering economy, major corporations and employers that operate in states that don’t yet recognize same-sex marriage will find it tougher to recruit and keep the best LGBT talent,” said Selisse Berry, Out & Equal Founding Executive Director. “Same-sex marriage recognition by the federal government is an historic breakthrough. It’s now time to renew our efforts to pass a federal employment nondiscrimination law that is truly inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity.”
The U.S. Congress is today considering passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that would provide protections against workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. If this legislation were enacted, the new poll reveals that at least one-third (34 percent) of LGBT adults who are not yet open about their sexual orientation or gender identity at work would become comfortable “coming out” at work. Regrettably, the survey also reveals a need for greater education on the issue since nearly eight of 10 (76 percent) adults wrongly think it is currently illegal, under federal law, for an employer to fire someone because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).
The annual 2013 Out & Equal Workplace Survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive in conjunction with Out & Equal Workplace Advocates and Witeck Communications, among 2,577 U.S. adults, of whom 2,150 indicated they are heterosexual and 371 self-identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender (including an over-sample of gay and lesbian adults). Begun in 2002, this survey has become a trusted annual barometer of attitudes surrounding LGBT issues in the workplace and is the longest-running national survey of its kind.
When it comes to career advancement, the new survey reveals a clear majority (60 percent) of gay and lesbian adults also would consider declining a job promotion if it required them to transfer to a state where same-sex marriages were not recognized, compared to only a third (33 percent) when asked last year. Also, eight out of 10 (79 percent) gay and lesbian adults, other factors being equal, would prefer a job with an employer in a state where same-sex marriages are recognized over an employer in a state that does not recognize same-sex marriages, compared to 68 percent in 2012.
Past polls show that non-LGBT allies are dedicated partners in the fight for workplace equality and, according to the new survey, they are growing in number. More than a third (35 percent) of heterosexual adults consider themselves to be an ally of LGBT people, compared to a quarter (27 percent) who declared so two years ago. Also, more than one out of four (28 percent) heterosexual adults say they keep informed about issues of importance to the LGBT community, compared to just a fifth (19 percent) in 2011.
Transgender Americans remain especially at risk for workplace discrimination, yet increased visibility can lead to more respect and acceptance. Nearly eight out of 10 (77 percent) heterosexual adults agree that how an employee performs at their job should be the standard for judging an employee, not whether or not they are transgender, compared to 67 percent of heterosexual adults tested in 2007.
The Out & Equal Workplace Summit will open on Monday, October 28, and close on Thursday, October 31, 2013 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Nearly 2,500 attendees are expected from more than 30 countries. LGBT employees and straight allies, along with human resources and diversity professionals, representing a broad cross-section of the nation’s leading companies—a majority from the Fortune 500—are set to participate in this year’s Summit, focused on achieving workplace equality.
For more information about the Summit or to register, please visit www.outandequal.org.
Marriage equality advocates in California, Oregon and Washington now have the opportunity to make a real difference in making the freedom to marry a reality in Hawaii. On Thursday, October 24 at 7:30 p.m. PT, the National Equality Action Team (NEAT) is having a national “Night of Action” for Hawaii in which volunteers can phone bank from home and other locations.
NEAT is a nearly 50-member action-oriented coalition of national, regional, state, and local organizations chaired by Marriage Equality USA (MEUSA).
Tracy Hollister, MEUSA Program Manager explained: “Just as loving, committed couples’ genders should not restrict their freedom to marry; neither should their state of residence. The rest of the country, particularly National Equality Action Team partners and volunteers on the West Coast, who are in a better position to phone bank for Hawaii, stands with Hawaii in their historic bid for marriage equality.”
“We are excited that fair-minded people on the West Coast and around the country can easily make a difference simply by going to www.theneat.org and signing up,” said MEUSA Board Member Brendan Brawner. “Even in New York, the ‘City That Never Sleeps,’ we will have an in-person luau phone bank party happening live in Times Square at 10:30 p.m. ET on October 24.”
Brian Silva, MEUSA Executive Director, concluded: “Since 1991, Hawaii has been at the forefront of the fight for equal rights for LGBT families. Today, MEUSA takes another important step as an early member of the Hawaii United for Marriage coalition by organizing supporters across the country to take action in support of our friends and family in the Aloha State.”
LGBT rights may be making progress, but it’s not going quick enough for Judy Shepard whose son Matthew was the victim of a brutal anti-gay hate crime 15 years ago in Laramie, Wyoming.
Matthew died October 12, 1998 at age 21, six days after he was beaten and left on a fence by two men he met at a bar while he was attending the University of Wyoming.
“Matthew’s death gave Wyoming a perfect opportunity to take the first step toward equality,” Shepard said. “Instead, it has taken two steps back.”
Shepard is shocked the state still has no hate-crime laws, let alone one based on crimes against sexual orientation or gender identity. Because of this, she said a lot of LGBT people in Wyoming choose to stay in the closet.
During an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Shepard also talked about the play The Laramie Project that addressed the town’s reactions to Matthew’s death. The play showed at the University of Mississippi, and some of the audience members shouted antigay slurs at the actors.
“It’s disappointing the nation as a whole isn’t embracing the movement to accept people like Matthew,” she told the Times. “We’ve still got a long way to go. That’s why an incident in Mississippi can still happen.”
Shepard set up the Matthew Shepard Foundation and was described as a “tireless advocate for gay rights.” The foundation’s executive director, Jason Marsden, thinks progress has been made for the LGBT community, pointing out the openly gay state legislator from Laramie that was elected in 2009, Cathy Connolly.
Marsden did, however, dismiss the book The Book of Matt, which claims that his murder was not a hate crime, but instead over drugs. His mother had no statements concerning the book.
Shepard has never been to the spot where Matthew died. She does, however, keep her sons watch, which was rescued from the police evidence room as he was wearing it when attacked. She had given it to him as a graduation gift and now keeps the watch on her dresser “as a reminder of Matthew’s life – and that time goes on.”
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Two-time U.S. Olympian Nick Symmonds not only won a silver medal in the 800 meter race last week at the IAFF World Athletics Championships in Moscow, but he decided todedicate his medal to his gay and lesbian friends.
The Olympian became the first to “to openly criticize Russia’s controversial anti-gay law on the country’s soil.”
Russia’s anti-gay laws, prohibiting “homosexual propaganda,” have been causing a lot of controversy considering the country is hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Even president Obama is upset with Russia’s laws, but thinks it’s unfair to boycott the Olympics.
“We’ve got a bunch of Americans that are training hard, who are doing everything they can to succeed,” he said. “Nobody’s more offended than me by some of the anti-gay and -lesbian legislation that we’ve been seeing in Russia
Symmonds said he would do all he could for the LGBT community short of getting arrested.
“As much as I can speak out about it, I believe that all humans deserve equality as however God made them,” Symmonds said. “Whether you’re gay, straight, black, white, we all deserve the same rights. If there’s anything I can do to champion the cause and further it, I will, shy of getting arrested.”
Symmonds seems to be true to his word. While he wanted to wear a rainbow flag during his race, the Russian government made it clear they would throw him in jail.
“I’m trying to tread that fine line of being respectful as a guest in this country and also speaking against some serious injustices that I see,” he said. “As adamant as I am about this issue, I don’t know what me sitting in jail is good for.”
Symmonds will stay civil during his races, but as he explained in a column for Runner’s World, his gay and lesbian friends will stay in his heart.
“I will say now what I said before the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, when people asked me how I felt competing in a foreign country with questionable human rights standards: The playing field is not a place for politics. In a world rife with never-ending political battles, let the playing field be where we set aside our differences and compete for national pride and the love of sport.
“If I am placed in a race with a Russian athlete, I will shake his hand, thank him for his country’s generous hospitality, and then, after kicking his ass in the race, silently dedicate the win to my gay and lesbian friends back home. Upon my return, I will then continue to fight for their rights in my beloved democratic union.”
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Lambda Legal and The Center for HIV Law & Policy (CHLP), joined by eight other civil rights organizations, have submitted a friend-of-the-court brief asking the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) to overturn an Immigration Judge’s ruling denying a Jamaican immigrant’s application for deferral of removal to Jamaica under the U.N Convention Against Torture (CAT).
“The Immigration Judge relied on stereotypes that greatly oversimplify the complicated journey may lesbians and gay men travel in coming to terms with their sexual orientation, and in determining to whom they come out,” Lambda Legal Senior Staff Attorney Thomas W. Ude, Jr. said. “How do you prove to a judge that you are gay? Denying protection against torture in Jamaica based on stereotyped assumptions about the process of coming out is unjust. Relationship histories can be complicated for anyone, but this can be particularly true for LGB people from homophobic environments. Given the level of violence LGB people face in Jamaica, a decision that fails to acknowledge this complexity virtually guarantees that LGB immigrants will be sent to very dangerous conditions.”
The brief authored by Lambda Legal and CHLP concerns the case of Anthony, who immigrated to the United States when he was a teenager. He explained to the Immigration Judge that he realized he was gay when he was 25 but – like many other LGB people – continued to struggle for years to come to terms with his sexual orientation, both because of homophobia in his family and community, and reinforced by the antigay religious views of his family. He explained that while navigating his coming out process, he fathered two children. He also presented testimony from both a former and current romantic partner to support his own testimony about his sexual orientation.
“Anthony” is a pseudonym, because the immigrant seeking relief has requested anonymity based on his fear that if he is identified as a gay man, he will be tortured and killed if he is removed to Jamaica.
In the ruling, the immigration judge concluded that Anthony had not proved he was gay, pointing to the children, Anthony’s earlier relationships with women, and to testimony that Anthony had not told his children or their mothers that he is gay. However, in the friend-of-the-court brief, Lambda Legal and CHLP cite several studies documenting that for many LGB individuals, acknowledging that one is lesbian, gay or bisexual is often a prolonged process.
“Gay men can face a uniquely intense form of persecution in Jamaica,” said CHLP Legal Director Iván Espinoza-Madrigal. “Homophobia and ignorance about HIV are reflected in, and compounded by, the widely-held perception in Jamaica of gay men as vectors of disease. Gay men are presumed to be HIV positive and treated as dangerous to be around regardless of their actual HIV status.”
Lambda Legal and CHLP are joined by the following organizations as co-amici on this brief: the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, the National Association of Social Workers, the National Association of Social Workers Connecticut Chapter, the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, the National Black Justice Coalition, the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut.
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