IRS shoots down DOMA

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    Jul 15, 2010 10:11 AM GMT
    This is from one of my brothers who is an accountant.

    Federal Tax Day - Current, J.6 Same-Sex Married Couples Allowed to File Joint Returns (Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, DC Mass.), (Jul. 13, 2010)
    Same-sex married couples were allowed to file joint federal income tax returns and have access to other federal benefits available to married couples where a U.S. district court found that section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates the equal protection principles of the Fifth Amendment’s due process clause. The couples filed amended joint returns seeking tax refunds, which the IRS disallowed on the grounds that the federal government does not recognize same-sex marriage as section 3 of DOMA defines, for federal law purposes, a marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman, and a spouse as a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or wife. The court, however, found no rational basis for denying federal benefits to same-sex married couples.
    In finding that DOMA bears no rational relationship to a legitimate government objective, the court struck down Congress’s asserted reasons for enacting DOMA—to encourage responsible procreation, defend traditional marriage and morality, and conserve limited resources. Since DOMA failed to pass constitutional muster even under the highly deferential rational basis test, the court determined that it was unnecessary to employ a higher level of review, such as strict scrutiny.
    The district court also found that Congress had no interest in a uniform definition of marriage for purposes of determining federal rights, benefits and privileges. The states alone have the right to establish eligibility requirements as to familial relationships and the federal government cannot have a legitimate interest in disregarding those family status determinations. In addition, the Congress’s enactment of a provision denying federal recognition to a particular category of valid state-sanctioned marriages was a significant departure from the status quo at the federal level that the government alleged DOMA meant to preserve.
    Furthermore, there was no rational relationship between DOMA and its alleged goal to ensure state-to-state consistency in the distribution of federal marriage-based benefits. DOMA does not provide for nationwide consistency in the distribution of federal benefits among married couples but, rather, denies to same-sex married couples the federal marriage-based benefits that similarly situated heterosexual couples enjoy. Moreover, the court reasoned that the pursuit of consistency in the distribution of federal marriage-based benefits can only constitute a legitimate government objective if there exists a relevant characteristic by which to distinguish those who are entitled to receive benefits from those who are not, and such a characteristic is marital status. By premising eligibility for these benefits on marriage, Congress has already made the determination that married people make up a class of similarly-situated individuals, different in relevant respects from the class of non-married individuals.
    Finally, the court found unpersuasive the argument that the DOMA classification addresses a potential administrative burden for the federal agencies created by changing state marriage laws. Federal agencies do not implement changing state marriage laws, which is the job of the state, but merely distribute federal marriage-based benefits to those couples that have already obtained state-sanctioned marriage licenses.
    N. Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, DC Mass., 2010-2 USTC ¶50,509
  • DCEric

    Posts: 3718

    Jul 15, 2010 11:33 AM GMT
    Yes, but its gonna get appealed to SCOTUS anyway. Then we will see.