Massachusetts Legal Blog

How The New Same Sex Marriage Laws Affect Massachusetts

On Wednesday, June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court of the United Status struck down The Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, also known as “DOMA”.

Chiefly, DOMA barred same-sex couples whose marriages are recognized in their home state from receiving Federal Benefits. These federal benefits would otherwise be available to heterosexual couples.

This recent decision by the Supreme Court applies only to states that currently recognize same sex marriage. This ruling does not apply the right to enter into a same-sex marriage to all fifty states.

Since Same-sex marriage is recognized in Massachusetts as a result of a ruling on May 17, 2004, by the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts couples in the state will now reap these new benefits.

Below is a frequently asked questions narrative, which will helps to crystalize some of the issues surrounding this historic ruling.

Q: Can people in gay marriages now receive the same federal benefits as people in opposite-sex marriages?

YES. The Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the sections of the Defense of Marriage Act that denied federal benefits to gay and lesbian couples in states that currently allow such unions.

Q. What types of benefits will same-sex couples be afforded under this recent ruling?

This landmark decision affords same-sex couples a miscellany of federal benefits, which would otherwise be available only to heterosexual couples.

These benefits include the ability to file joint tax returns, jointly apply for subsidies to purchase health insurance coverage through the marketplaces established under the law, claim the maximum estate and marital gift-tax exemption for estate planning purposes, receive the right to be the first party notified of a partner’s injury while serving in combat, be able to receive a tax deduction on dependent employer-sponsored health-care coverage, and many others.

Q: Do today’s rulings mean all states have to allow gay marriage?

NO. The Supreme Court was silent on the issue of the constitutionality of same-sex marriage.

Q: Did the Supreme Court declare same-sex marriage constitutional in California?

NO. The Supreme Court opined that it lacked jurisdiction to consider this issue.
A full copy Wednesday’s opinion can be found here:

By Anna Shapiro