Domestic Partnerships and Same-Sex Marriage
Since the June 26, 2013 U.S. Supreme Court Defense of Marriage Act rulings, gay and lesbian couples are able to marry throughout the United States, and their marriages are treated as valid for federal law purposes. Some of the effects of treating same sex marriages the same as heterosexual marriages for federal purposes under the U.S. vs. Windsor decision are:
* A same-sex spouse can request a green card for his or her immigrant spouse.
* Same-sex couples can file joint tax returns.
* Medical benefits for a same-sex spouse are not taxed as income. (Previously they were, and they still are for domestic partners.)
* A same-sex spouse is eligible to include his or her spouse in a family flexible spending account if the spouse is otherwise eligible.
* Inheritances from a same-sex spouse are exempt from federal Inheritance Tax.
* Same-sex spouses are eligible for benefits under the Family Medical Leave Act and federal COBRA rules.
* Same-sex spouses are entitled to Social Security benefits based on the spouse’s earnings record if otherwise eligible.
* Military same-sex spouses are eligible for military health and retirement benefits.
In California there is Domestic Partnership as an alternative to marriage. It is available to all intimate couples who are not married or in a domestic partnership with someone else, who would be eligible to marry each other, and who are over 18 years of age (except with parental consent and a Court order). It is no longer limited to only same-sex couples or couples over 62 years of age.
Domestic partners have the same rights as married couples as to California rights and benefits, and they are subject to the community property laws. However, domestic partnership is not recognized at the Federal level.