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May 27, 2010

GLAD Files Amended Complaint in DOMA Challenge

GLAD filed an amended complaint this week in our lawsuit challenging Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Gill v. OPM.

The complaint updates the tax overpayments of three of the plaintiff couples due to their inability to file their federal income tax returns under the status “married filing jointly.”  Each couple must instead file as either a single individual or head of household when they have dependent children.

“Whether a couple pays more or less in taxes, all married gay and lesbian couples are forced by DOMA to misrepresent themselves and disrespect their very own marriages,” says Mary L. Bonauto, GLAD’s Civil Rights Project Director.  “DOMA forces a charade where married couples have to pretend they are single, undermining their dignity and their families.”

Reflecting the 2008 tax year, plaintiffs Mary Ritchie and Kathy Bush, over the lifetime of their marriage, have paid $19,066 more in federal taxes than if they had been able to file jointly in the years between 2004 and 2008.  “We have two kids, and that’s money we could use for current expenses or to save for college,” said Kathy.

Melba Abreu and Beatrice Hernandez have taken an even bigger hit.  Married since 2004, but unable to file jointly, they have now paid an additional $25,359 in federal income tax.  “I don’t know anyone for whom that’s not a significant amount of money,” said Beatrice.

Jonathan Knight and Marlin Nabors have been married since 2006.  For the three tax years that they have been married thus far, they have paid $2,894 more than if they had filed jointly.

Gill v. OPM was filed in March 2009, and U.S. District Court Judge Joseph L. Tauro heard the case on the merits on May 6, 2010.  A decision is pending.

“Each and every day, married gay and lesbian couples are harmed by DOMA,” says Bonauto.  “Sometimes the discrimination is very concrete and quantifiable, as we can see here.  Yet, as we heard for ourselves at the recent court hearing, the federal government can’t articulate why it should make these married couples pay more at tax time than their identically-situated married neighbors across the street.”