This may not have been the breakout week for US marriage equality that all the pink = signs on red backgrounds are asking for. The US Supreme Court verdict will not come out before June, but observers think the court will probably end up letting states decide who gets married, as has always been the case. According to the complex logic of US Constitutional law, marriage might not be a “federal issue”.
The problem is that federal benefits and taxes are federal issues, and the federal government has distinguished between married and unmarried people in allotting them. For example, the case before the court involved a plaintiff who had to pay $360,000 in estate taxes to take over the property she had inherited from her dead lesbian partner of many decades. Had the Federal Government recognized their marriage she would not have had to pay the taxes. They were married in Canada, so it’s not like they were not married. If had been a heterosexual couple there would not have been any taxes. Another example is Pramote and me. We were married in Iowa on October 7, 2009. As things stand when I die he will not get any money from my accumulated deposits in the US Social Security program because the Federal Government does not recognize our marriage. Neither does the Thai government. If the Supreme Court overturns DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, then, apparently, Pramote and I will be able to claim certain rights and get him some protections and survivor’s benefits.
I do believe a lot of progress was apparent over the past week, which, coincidentally, was Holy Week for the Christian world. TIME magazine says marriage equality is a done deal. US public opinion is moving in our favor faster than was believed possible. Even foreign countries are noticing, including Thailand.
Meanwhile, it’s kind of disappointing. My fault for not finding out what the fuss was about before the pink = signs began appearing in red boxes on Facebook. I got too excited, too soon.
Still it reminds me of Easter when I was a boy. The big, most enticing chocolate Easter egg was hollow.
Rev. Dr. Kenneth Dobson posts his weekly reflections on this blog.