Waking up this morning, after yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act, is a lot like waking the morning after your wedding day/night. Something momentous and life-changing has happened. The world looks pretty much the same as it did the day before, but everything has changed. Some of the changes are obvious. Other changes that you might not have thought of, will become apparent later, and reveal just how much has changed.
Here are some of the things that have changed for some 59 million Americans affected by yesterday’s ruling.
- Deportation of gay spouses stops. Yesterday was a win for 36,000 bi-national same-sex couples. If you’re gay or lesbian and married to someone from another country, your husband or wife won’t be getting shipped back home. A New York judge adjourned a deportation hearing involving a gay male couple, upon hearing of the DOMA ruling. Gays now have the same right to sponsor their spouses for green cards.
- Government employees get equal treatment. Department of Homeland Security Sec. Janet Napolitano has announced that DHS will “implement [Wednesday's] decision so that all married couples will be treated equally and fairly in the administration of our immigration laws.”
- The Pentagon will extend benefits to gay spouses. If seeing military recruiters at San Francisco Pride wasn’t enough of a surprise, with the demise of both DOMA and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the Secretary of Defense Chuck Hegel has announced that the Pentagon will start working “immediately” to extend benefits to same-sex couples. How’s that for supporting the troops?
- The IRS has more work to do. Now that that scam of a scandal is dying down, the IRS will have to figure out how to handle taxes for legally married gay couples who live in states that don’t recognize same-sex marriage.
- Gay couples get Obamacare benefits. Yesterday’s ruling made gay couples eligible for federal benefits under Obamacare. Same-sex couples in states that recognize their marriages can apply for tax subsidies to offset healthcare costs. Some couples will now qualify for spousal protections under Medicaid. (Though filing joint tax returns may raise their household income above the threshold.)
- LGBT couples of color get some economic justice. As I pointed out yesterday, the “wealthy gay elite” is a myth. Same-sex couples have are more likely to live in poverty, partially because they lacked access to the benefits and protections of marriage. There are over 1,000 federal benefits tied to marriage, and they can add up to $500,000 in a couple’s lifetime – including more than $200,000 in health benefits, and nearly $100,000 in Social Security benefits. That why yesterday’s DOMA ruling matters for LGBT couples of color, who are likely to be poorer than their white counterparts.
In addition to the above, PBS NewHour has provided this handy list of 15 benefits same-sex couples can now look forward to.
That’s just a sampling. Here is the full list.
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That’s how much changed yesterday.