[JURIST] The US Treasury Department [official website] announced [press release] Thursday that the Treasury, along with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) [official website] will now recognize the marriages of all same-sex couples for federal tax purposes. This recognition is to take place for legally-married couples living in all states, including jurisdictions that do not recognize same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder]. The ruling, however, does not apply to registered domestic partnerships or civil unions. Thursday’s decision has been met with both praise and criticism. Freedom to Marry [advocacy website] lauded the decision, calling it a victory [press release] for the rights of same-sex couples. Meanwhile, the National Organization of Marriage [advocacy website] criticized [press release] the Obama administration for overstepping its boundaries in a nation where “only Congress has the authority to change the law.”
Thursday’s announcement follows the recent US Supreme Court decision in US v. Windsor [SCOTUSblog backgrounder; JURIST report] which overturned Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The ruling did not create a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, but it entitles couples in lawfully recognized same-sex marriages to certain federal benefits. A judge for the Second Judicial District Court of New Mexico [official website] on Tuesday ordered [JURIST report] district court clerks to begin granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Last week the Texas Supreme Court [official website] announced that it will consider whether the state has jurisdiction [JURIST report] to grant divorces to two same-sex couples who were legally married in Massachusetts. In July the ACLU filed a federal lawsuit [JURIST report] in Pennsylvania on behalf of 21 residents who wish to marry their same-sex partner or who are seeking recognition by the state of their out-of-state same-sex marriage. In March Vermont’s House of Representatives approved a bill [JURIST report] that would require out-of-state employers to provide the same health care coverage to same-sex couples as employees with an opposite-sex spouse. Also in March the Colorado House of Representative voted in favor of a bill [JURIST report] that would legalize civil unions in the state.