1. Same-sex spouses are treated as legal strangers by the federal government and are therefore subject to different rules governing inheritance tax. Same-sex couples may have to pay a significant estate tax. Heterosexual couples don’t have to pay that.
In 2011 and 2012, it is likely that more than 9,000 same-sex couples will file estate tax returns. They could all be effected by this tax.
2. If a gay man or woman marries an immigrant of the same sex, there’s no way to guarantee the immigrant spouse will be able to stay in this country legally. A heterosexual couple has that guarantee.
A report from the Williams Institute reveals that nearly 26,000 same-sex couples in the United States are bi-national couples who could be forced to separate because they cannot participate in green-card and accelerated citizenship mechanisms offered to non-citizen spouses of American citizens.
3. Employer-paid health benefits are considered taxable income for gay couples, while they are not taxable for straight couples.
A 2007 Williams Institute and Center for American Progress study found that an employee with a same-sex spouse or domestic partner pays $1,069 more in taxes per year than an employee receiving the same health benefits for a different-sex spouse.
4. Same-sex couples are not allowed to file joint tax returns.
While many same-sex couples avoid the so-called marriage penalty associated with filing joint tax returns, many same-sex couples would gain from being able to file joint tax returns. Couples filing joint tax returns in the states allowing same-sex marriage must still file separately with the IRS.
5. The Family Medical Leave Act allows heterosexual couples to take employment leave to care for various family members, including their spouse. Same-sex couples are not allowed to do this.
A recent Williams Institute research brief uses 2008 Census Bureau data to estimate that approximately 38% of same-sex partners (approximately 430,000) are both employed and would be eligible for FMLA benefits to care for same-sex spouses if the FMLA covered same-sex partners.
6. If a spouse in a gay marriage dies, the survivor can’t get Social Security survivor benefits.
Under the current system of Social Security, different-sex spouses of insured workers can get a monthly check for half their spouse’s benefit if it is higher than what he or she would get on his or her own.
7. Spouses of veterans are eligible for a variety of benefits including pensions, educational assistance, and vocational training. Same-sex partners are not eligible for any of these benefits.
7.3% of individuals in same-sex couples, or approximately 85,000 individuals, are veterans of the armed forces.
8. By preventing same-sex relationships from obtaining the respect paid to other marital relationships, DOMA essentially enshrines the age-old stigma of LGBT people as lonely and incapable of healthy and happy relationships into the law of the United States.
A survey of people married to a same-sex spouse in Massachusetts finds that couples gain social support from their families and a greater level of commitment to their partners when they are allowed to marry.39 Same-sex couples who can marry report that they feel more socially included,40 but they are still critically aware that they are excluded from legal recognition and treated as second-class citizens by the federal government as a result of DOMA.