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Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Local couples must wait to learn extent of same-sex marriage rights

June 28, 2013

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Same-sex couples who were legally married in another state but who now live in Kansas will have to wait before they learn exactly how they'll be affected by last week's U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down a key element of the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA.

“There are a lot of things that are just uncertain at this point,” said Doug Bonney, legal director of the Kansas and western Missouri branch of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Bonney said it will probably take several weeks, or even months, for federal agencies to issue guidelines on how they intend to comply with the ruling.

The 5-4 ruling Wednesday said the federal government cannot deny marriage benefits to same-sex couples who are legally married in a state or other jurisdiction that recognizes such marriages.

The big question, Bonney said, is whether the federal government will now extend that recognition based on where the couple married or where they currently live.

That's an important question for local couples like Lisa Rasor and Lori Wagner, who were married in Iowa, where same-sex marriages are recognized, but who live in Kansas, where they are not.

“It would be nice if Lisa could receive my Social Security benefits, or vice-versa, when one of us dies,” Wagner, a retired public school teacher, said. “Now, it's just gone, along with my Kansas pension.”

Immediately after the ruling Wednesday, President Barack Obama issued a statement saying he had "directed the Attorney General to work with other members of my Cabinet to review all relevant federal statutes to ensure this decision, including its implications for Federal benefits and obligations, is implemented swiftly and smoothly.

On Thursday, he went further, saying he personally believes the benefits should apply to all legally married same-sex couples, regardless of the state where they now live.

"It's my personal belief — but I'm speaking now as a president, as opposed to as a lawyer — that if you've been married in Massachusetts and you move someplace else, you're still married," the president said.

Federal agencies contacted by the Journal-World this week declined to discuss how the ruling would affect specific programs, referring instead back to the president's statement on Wednesday in which he said the Justice Department would help other agencies review statutes and policies that might be affected.

Among the federal programs where eligibility could change as a result of the decision:

Social Security: The federal retirement and disability insurance program provides benefits to a surviving spouse if the spouse who died had earned enough credits to qualify for benefits.

Medicaid: A joint state and federal health insurance program for the poor and elderly. Medicaid is largely funded by the federal government, but states can set their own eligibility standards, as long as they meet minimum federal requirements.

The key criteria for Medicaid eligibility are household income and the number of people living in the household. The Kansas application form specifically asks people to identify their relationship to every other person in the home.

"It’s premature to speculate how this will impact enrollees of our programs, when we haven’t done the review yet," said Julie Brookhart, spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the branch of Health and Human Services that administers those programs.

Veterans benefits: The Department of Veterans Affairs administers several benefit programs for military veterans and their families. Eligibility for those programs varies, depending on the era and type of service. They include access to low interest VA home mortgages; pension benefits for surviving spouses; and educational benefits, including tuition reimbursement.

Military personnel: Active duty soldiers receive many benefits that can also be extended to family members. Those include family health care coverage, access to housing on military bases and the right to shop at a Post Exchange on base.

George Marcec, the public affairs operations officer at Fort Leavenworth, said this week that all branches of the military will wait for guidance from the Department of Defense on how to apply those benefits to legal same-sex spouses of soldiers who are serving in Kansas.

Comments

fiddleback 1 year, 5 months ago

You'll notice that federal income tax filing isn't listed, because for whatever reason, if your state refuses to let you file taxes as a married couple, the IRS won't either...

American federalism: arbitrarily abetting provincial tyranny since 1791...

flloyd 1 year, 5 months ago

It's Adam & Eve...not Adam & Steve.

mom_of_three 1 year, 5 months ago

that book also says that a man can have multiple wives and slaves and you can only wear polyester, and you can't eat seafood. So you do follow the entire book or passages of it?

Armored_One 1 year, 5 months ago

And the Constitution of the United States is a document founded in law, and as such, is only viewable through the lens of secular law. To do otherwise would create different castes of citizens, and in no society in the history of humanity has that ever worked, except for those in the privileged sections/sects.

An American citizen, either born or naturalized, is entitled to the exact same benefits and protects as any other citizen, or are you calling for a caste system and homosexuals, through no true fault but your own limited view of equality, are not as equal as you or I?

mom_of_three 1 year, 5 months ago

To floyd: well, that makes two of us. And my kids understand that all people are created equal

Lefty54 1 year, 5 months ago

Don't forget the stoning of adulterers. We would run of stones pretty quickly.

Fred Mertz 1 year, 5 months ago

Might be a good way to clean up congress but I suppose you're we don't have enough stones.

Corey Williams 1 year, 5 months ago

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:17-19

Corey Williams 1 year, 5 months ago

Suddenly the post I replied to is gone. This was in response to someone who said that they only follow the new testament.

Jay Keffer 1 year, 5 months ago

Context is your friend God does not/did not condone multiple wives, and those that chose this path paid a price.

You appear to be the one that has not read the whole Bible and picks and chooses verses, out of context, to find a false conclusion.

Read the Bible cover to cover to understand God's plan. In a nutshell, all have fallen short of the glory of God, and his plan for redemption is available to all who will believe.

mom_of_three 1 year, 5 months ago

Picks out verses out of context? whatever. Read the bible cover to cover? whatever. Because there are those who have done so and have come up with a different conclusion than those who oppose gay marriage. and for the record, gay marriage will not have any effect upon my life, except that all people will be created equal. Dislike it due to religious reasons, I don't care, but you can't determine the outcome of the entire country's future based on your religious feelings...

Liberty275 1 year, 5 months ago

It's time to move on. Homosexuality is part of America. Fighting it is just going to mess up your blood pressure.

Jay Keffer 1 year, 5 months ago

It is not a sin to call sin a sin. The verse you allude to is often taken out of context. We can judge sin, and deviation from God's plan. Adultery is a sin, as is fornication, etc. Homosexualy is also a sin, and is now pushed on all of us, despite those that practice it saying it is 'private' and 'none of our business'. Then make it none of our business by keeping it to yourself. Jesus did die on the cross for our sin, but not intentional,. perpetual sin. That is on us, and not covered by the sacrifice Christ made on the Cross. If we sin intentionally, we send Christ back to the Cross over and over. That sin will not be forgiven. Check out the writings of Paul for the true meaning of the scripture.

God bless us all.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 1 year, 5 months ago

How is being gay being "pushed on us" any more than your minority belief system?

Life, with all its messy beauty and strange belief systems, is just out there. It's here. It's not going away. It can't change your life unless you want/allow it to change your life.

mom_of_three 1 year, 5 months ago

See, here is the difference between the arguments. Gays can "keep it to themselves" BUT they want the legal rights that hetero marriage gets. It doesn't make sense why gay couples who are not legally allowed to marry have to pay inheritance taxes, or unable to visit their loved one in the hospital or have to pay more income tax just because they are gay. They don't care if you approve of their lifestyle. They just want equal rights under the law. whether you agree with it due to religious reasons makes no difference to anyone.

LA_Ex 1 year, 5 months ago

I've never had a homosexual person push their lifestyle on me, however I've had countless Christians push their "beliefs" on me. Whether it be somebody knocking on my door at dinner time to tell me the 'word of god" or the religious right legislators. Sorry, not everyone in the US is a Christian. Keep your religion to yourself and out of my government.

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