Pages tagged "california"
By MEUSA Social Media Director Thom Watson In my previous column I noted I was about to get married. I hope you’ll forgive my ongoing self-indulgence as I write about my nuptials once more. One’s own wedding, after all, doesn’t happen every day. Admittedly, given California’s rollercoaster history regarding marriage equality, some of us have been married multiple times to the same person. Jeff and I even had a post-Prop 8 commitment ceremony that we called a wedding, in defiance of the amendment’s unconstitutional claim that we weren’t legally entitled to the term. But Jeff and I legally wed just once. At 2:00 p.m., Thursday, September 26 – three weeks ago today and four years to the day from that non-legal commitment ceremony – we made our vows to one another at San Francisco City Hall. Originally, our congresswoman Jackie Speier was slated to officiate. However, due to the ongoing budget crisis in the federal government, the House of Representatives was called back from their recess originally scheduled for the week we were to marry, and Rep. Speier regretfully had to cancel. [caption id="attachment_447" align="alignleft" width="300"] Jeff and Thom with Stuart and John at the Cliff House, September 28. ©2013 Levi Smith Photography[/caption] With one week to go before the wedding, our very dear friends and my fellow Bay Times columnists John Lewis and Stuart Gaffney generously agreed to step in as co-officiants. Actually, knowing that John had officiated other weddings, and that he and Stuart were going to be there at our wedding – just as they’d been with us at City Hall after Judge Walker’s decision in August, 2010, when we hoped the stay would be lifted and we would be able to marry; on Valentine’s Day earlier this year when we spoke to a crowd at City Hall about the pain of still not being able to wed; and again at City Hall that joyful day this past June when we finally got our marriage license – we already had asked if he would be willing to officiate in the event the congresswoman were called back to D.C. We had planned to ask Stuart to be our witness. When John and Stuart arrived at City Hall on the 26th, however, they surprised us by asking if we’d mind if they performed the wedding together. We were touched by the suggestion, thrilled by the possibility, and particularly moved by the symbolism of having these two men stand together to pronounce the words that would make Jeff and me husbands. Four years ago we knew John and Stuart largely only as fellow marriage equality activists, heroes of the California marriage equality movement, and plaintiffs in the court case that first established the freedom to marry in California and set the stage for our own wedding this year. In the intervening time, though, they’d become our mentors, our comrades-in-arms, and our brothers. John and Stuart brought a deeply personal touch to the ceremony, and Jeff and I consider ourselves to be so very fortunate that in the end our two friends were the ones facing us on the balcony at City Hall. [caption id="attachment_448" align="alignright" width="300"] Thom and Jeff with friends at their Cliff House reception. ©2013 Levi Smith Photography[/caption] Two days later we hosted a reception at the Cliff House, the location of our 2009 commitment ceremony. Four years ago we’d been joined by about 65 friends and family members. Last month over 110 of our friends and family were present; there were several dozen more people, including at least a half-dozen more kids, who might have been there but for other commitments, distance, or last-minute illness. Four years ago, there was one teenager present and no younger children. Last month nearly a dozen infants, toddlers, and pre-teens, along with a couple of teenagers, attended our reception. Several of these children call us “Uncle Thom” and “Uncle Jeff,” even though we have no biological connection, just a loving one that recognizes family ties beyond those of blood. We live in a world where love and legal marriage between two men or two women increasingly is not something to hide or to “protect” kids from, but rather something to celebrate, truly a family affair. We live in a world where these kids will grow up to be able to marry whomever they love, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Honestly, not too many years ago I would have said I wouldn’t expect to see that world in my lifetime. But at the Cliff House last month, I saw that it’s already arrived. [caption id="attachment_451" align="alignleft" width="300"] Just a few of the friends Thom & Jeff have made within the marriage equality movement. ©2013 Levi Smith Photography[/caption] The increase in the number of people celebrating with us was due almost entirely to the new friends and allies we’ve made in the past four years through our marriage equality advocacy; we considered our reception, in fact, to be as much a day of celebration for the hard work of so many to return the freedom to marry to California as it was specifically for the two of us. To that end, we asked that in lieu of gifts attendees consider making a donation to Marriage Equality USA; I’m overwhelmed by our friends’ generosity and very proud to note that our equality registry to date has raised nearly $2,700 to help MEUSA in its efforts to win the freedom to marry for the 37 remaining states where couples like Jeff and me still are denied this important civil right. That includes states like Virginia, my birthplace and my home for over 35 years. Jeff and I left Virginia for California, his home, in no small part due to the extreme homophobia of Virginia’s government and the absolute lack of any protections there for LGBT people in public accommodations, housing, employment, or relationship status. It remains legal in Virginia to fire an employee, even a state government employee, to refuse service at your place of business, or to refuse to rent or sell a home, for no reason other than that you disapprove of someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The current attorney general, once (though thankfully no longer) the front-runner to be the next governor, has called LGBT people “destructive” and “soulless,” while the GOP candidate for lieutenant governor has made homophobic comments that make “destructive” and “soulless” sound almost like compliments in comparison. Still, things are getting better, even back there in the Commonwealth, if more slowly than we might wish. [caption id="attachment_453" align="alignright" width="300"] I say, old chap, it's time to bring marriage equality to the Old Dominion, what? ©2013 Levi Smith Photography[/caption] Recent news that the legal team headed by David Boies and Ted Olson that defeated Prop 8 is now challenging Virginia’s refusal to treat loving gay couples as anything more than strangers under the law is particularly welcome and heartening. Someday Jeff and I may be able to visit my birth family – his in-laws – with pride and optimism rather than the worry and dread based on the state considering our marriage invalid that so often accompanies our visits back there now. Thousands of couples like us, we hope, will before long have their own relationships treated with the legal recognition that is their human and civil right. It would be fitting, certainly, if the state that in Loving v. Virginia fought anti-miscegenation laws all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and lost, thereby resulting in bans on interracial marriage being overturned nationwide, were to provide same-sex couples our own version of Loving and the same end to all laws banning same-sex marriages. It’s long past time for the Commonwealth fully to live up to its motto, “Virginia is for lovers,” without the invisible disclaimer, “Void where gay.”
[caption id="attachment_368" align="alignleft" width="112"] Boyce Hinman[/caption] Authored by Boyce Hinman, founder and director of the California Communities United Institute, and member of Marriage Equality USA. Hinman has been writing and posting a series, "Monday Morning Marriage Memo," as part of his Anatomy for Justice blog. This article was first published there, and is republished here with the author’s permission. Hinman resides in and serves California, therefore the posts sometimes have a California slant. NOTE: Marriage Equality USA is not a legal firm or a tax/accounting firm. No action should be taken based solely on the content of our news blog or website. People who are thinking of getting married, and who are receiving assistance from Medi-Cal, or may want to apply for it, should carefully consider their marriage plans. In some cases, getting married might disqualify them for Medi-Cal. Medi-Cal is a program which provides health insurance to those with very low income in California. It can help people pay for doctor’s visits, medications, lab tests and xrays, hospital care and surgery charges and skilled nursing home care. Note: I am not an attorney or a qualified tax expert. No action should be taken based solely on the content of these memos. However, I hope the memos will help you ask the right questions of people who are qualified in these issues. Medi-Cal has income limits for qualifying for the program. To qualify for Medi-Cal the applicant’s income must be less than 138% of the federal poverty level. For calendar year 2014, that means a single person must make less than $1,322 per month, or a couple must earn less than $1,784 per month, to be eligible. As you can see, the income limit for a couple is considerably less than for two single people. So, the income limits mean that two people on limited income might consider not getting married so they both will remain eligible for Medi-Cal. Medi-Cal also has property limits. That is, the value of property owned by a person or couple applying for Medi-Cal must not be worth more than a certain amount. For one person that value limit is $3,000. For two people (such as a married couple) the amount is the same. So here is an example of how these property limits might hurt a couple that gets married. Suppose two individuals each own $2,900 worth of property. If each of them were single, each of them would meet the asset test. Neither of them would be disqualified for owning too much property. If they married, each of them would fail that test and be disqualified. There are other requirements that people must meet to qualify for Medi-Cal. But the income and asset tests should be considered when people on limited income are considering getting married. To see a list of the other requirements,direct your browser to the following address. http://www.dhcs.ca.gov/formsandpubs/forms/Forms/mc002info0907.pdf
By MEUSA Director of Legal & Policy John Lewis and MEUSA National Media Director Stuart Gaffney An edited version of this article originally appeared in SF Bay Times, October 3, 2013: http://www.sfbaytimes.com/index.php?sec=article&article_id=18035 The latest California public opinion poll shows record support for marriage equality — 64% of likely voters and 61% percent of all adults. This news made us realize how wonderful it is when dreams really do come true, and when political goals that once seemed impossible are actually achieved. When the U.S. Supreme Court rulings ended Prop 8 and Section 3 of DOMA this summer, we wrote a press release for Marriage Equality USA saying that there would now be “more love and more marriage” than ever before. Yet we didn’t anticipate fully just how it would feel, landing somewhere over the rainbow — where instead of rallying for marriage equality in front of City Hall, we were getting invited to weddings inside City Hall. And for the first time we started having a whole new relationship to these weddings – in addition to getting wedding invitations, we started being invited to officiate. There truly is no better reward for a marriage equality activist! “By the power vested in me by the State of California, I pronounce you lawfully married spouses for life.” Those words have always held great meaning for us, not just because of the emotions we associate with weddings, but because they represent the first time we felt our government treating us as equal human beings, worthy of the full dignity and respect of the law. To be able now to say those words as officiants for couples saying “I do” is an amazing experience. No two couples are alike, and no two weddings are alike. We remember how the thousands of couples and families who lined up all day and even overnight in the rain outside San Francisco City Hall in February 2004 represented one of the most diverse gatherings of our community we had ever seen. And the couples we have been lucky enough to marry have been young and old, rich and poor, sick and healthy – just like the words in the wedding vows they recite. And now, without the deadline pressure couples felt in 2004 and again in 2008, couples are planning their happily ever afters with the greatest of love, care and creativity. One couple designed their own avatars. Another couple planned a fairytale honeymoon literally — at Disneyland. Yet another couple had feminist wedding cake toppers – “Sisterhood is Powerful” and “Viva La Revolucion.” And another had no money for rings, but still shared a very personal moment of commitment and equality. And so on — the creativity is endless, and the only constant is the joy — and tears of joy — in the eyes of couples who may have been together for 5 years or 50 years, but weren’t sure they would live to see the day when they could finally hear wedding bells ring out for them. As we perform marriages for dear friends and total strangers alike, it’s hard to imagine a political cause with a “happier” ending than the movement for equal marriage rights in California. But much remains to be done as we work to achieve marriage equality nationwide, to attain full equality in all aspects of our lives, and to stop homophobia and transphobia in all their manifestations. We were reminded of the work ahead when we recently performed a same-sex couple’s “confidential” marriage ceremony, a legal marriage with no traceable public record of the names of the couple. The couple needed the confidential marriage because they had very real fears for their safety in their community if it became known they were married. But the love and affection they felt for each other, their joy at marrying, and their sense of dignity at being treated equally under the law was palpable as their eyes locked on each other as they said “I do.” The substantive legal benefits of marriage were also very important to this couple with very limited income and financial resources. The world is changing right before our eyes — one wedding at a time. The movement for full equality has been filled with an enormous array of emotions and will undoubtedly involve many more successes and challenges. As we move forward, experiencing and sharing the joy of success inspires us as a diverse community to reach even greater heights. As we celebrate with the newlyweds in San Francisco City Hall, there’s truly no place on earth we’d rather be.
By MEUSA News Manager John Mattras [caption id="attachment_395" align="alignleft" width="300"] 2004 Wedding Portrait of David and Jeff Janis-Kitzmiller (photo by Jessica Hobbs and Felicia Carlisle)[/caption] Contacting Dave Janis-Kitzmiller is often a challenge. He may be at the European headquarters of the parent company of the company he runs, speaking with reporters about marriage equality, accompanying his employees on their daily "paid-to-walk" excursions or any other number of diverse activities that compose his eclectic life. Christine Allen, MEUSA , relays Janis-Kitzmiller's personal involvement in MEUSA as being equally broad as well as indispensable. "Dave first became involved as a leader with Marriage Equality USA in 2004 when he and his partner (now husband) stepped up to serve as volunteer chapter leaders in Solano County, California. Dave quickly moved into areas of expanded responsibility, becoming the organization’s IT director, newsletter editor, and joining the Board of Directors in 2006. He authored our first leadership manuals and the original legal agreements for the organization. Dave put in innumerable hours over the years, often working alone late into the night and on all weekends completing projects nobody else was available to do." In fact, Janis-Kitamiller has served twice as president and once as co-president of the organization in addition to holding other executive offices with MEUSA. [caption id="attachment_393" align="alignright" width="300"] David Janis-Kitzmiller pins a boutonniere on his partner, now husband, Jeff, as they become the first same-sex couple married in Solano County in 2008[/caption] Janis-Kitzmiller counts establishing a chapter of Marriage Equality USA in conservative Solano County (the only one of the nine San Francisco Bay Area Counties to vote in favor of Prop 8) and providing a face to the issue as one of the achievements at MEUSA of which he is most proud. "Working within the community to educate and change opinions on marriage equality was a challenge, but very rewarding after being the first couple married in the county in 2008," he says, though adding, "I am probably most proud of seeing marriage equality restored in California and the Supreme Court’s ruling on DOMA. These two achievements were the icing on the cake for an outgoing board president that resides in California." Janis-Kitzmiller recalls MEUSA's unique role in opposing Prop 8. "Marriage Equality USA was able to step in and fill a void within the campaign to reach out and provide signs/materials to folks outside of the major CA cities. This helped to promote dialogue and involve the grassroots effort in the campaign. It was a great way to make sure voices were heard across the state where we had 'boots on the ground'." From an organizational standpoint, Janis-Kitzmiller seems almost awe-struck relaying the transformation of MEUSA. "I have watched this grow from a group of California marriage equality activist folks meeting in my living room to what it is today. To see MEUSA as a national organization with an executive director and affecting change across the nation is an amazing achievement. The place that we have provided the grassroots individuals within the movement was so vital to changing hearts and minds across the nation. Without MEUSA, the groundwork/fieldwork would not have been as successful in achieving marriage equality across the US." Like most people in the marriage equality movement, Janis-Kitzmiller had personal reasons for his involvement. "As an adult, I fell in love and found that because of my sexual orientation, I could not have what everyone else has, a marriage. This didn’t make any sense to me. I knew it was unfair and wanted to change things. Since the early 1990s, I’ve been working to get equal rights for LGBT individuals. Part of this is due to selfishness in that I want the same as everyone else but, more importantly, it’s because there are many legal protections that our society’s laws provide to all except LGBT individuals: primarily with regard to family issues of marriage, adoption, death, hospital visitation, and survivor benefits. If we are all equal, created in God’s image, then why are our love and families not of equal importance? They deserve the same legal treatment as any other families." [caption id="attachment_392" align="alignleft" width="239"] David (right) and Jeff Janis-Kitzmiller cut the wedding cake at their 2008 reception[/caption] Already, Janis-Kitzmiller sees positive results from the marriage equality decisions. "It has helped to strengthen the recognition of our relationship by others. Words really make a difference. Being able to explain to folks that you are married and that this is your 'husband' instead of 'partner' lets people know the status of the relationship. We have become the 'marriage guys' for our county, which has afforded us the opportunity to meet other LGBT couples and supporters throughout Solano County." He also recognizes the difference marriage makes to him, personally. "I think it helped to really solidify things. Our relationship is legally recognized to be no different than anyone else's marriage. This has been helpful in achieving a better level of self-esteem as well as the legal protections, rights and responsibilities that come with marriage." Looking forward, Janis-Kitzmiller envisions being affiliated with MEUSA until marriage equality is achieved in all 50 states. "Although my role and level of involvement may change, this mission and the message won’t. I see us continuing in the way that has made the biggest impact, and that’s being visible. Having discussions with family, friends, coworkers, where we open our hearts and share our stories seems to be the successful path to changing minds of others. There’s a lot of work left to do, but we will succeed in the long run."
[caption id="attachment_368" align="alignleft" width="112"] Boyce Hinman[/caption] Authored by Boyce Hinman, founder and director of the California Communities United Institute, and member of Marriage Equality USA. Hinman has been writing and posting a series, "Monday Morning Marriage Memo," as part of his Anatomy for Justice blog. This article was first published there, and is republished here with the author’s permission. Hinman resides in and serves California, therefore the posts sometimes have a California slant. NOTE: Marriage Equality USA is not a legal firm or a tax/accounting firm. No action should be taken based solely on the content of our news blog or website. If you are part of a same sex couple who married in California during the summer of 2008 you might qualify for a refund of part of the FICA taxes that you paid for tax years 2010, 2011 and 2012. Your employer may also qualify for partial refunds of FICA taxes it paid during those same tax years. To qualify for those refunds you would have to have been working for wages during those years. The same is true of same sex couples who married legally in other states or other nations where such marriages are legal, such as Canada. And it would still be true for same sex couples who married in states or nations which allow such marriages but who now live in states which do not allow same sex marriages. Note: I am not an attorney or a qualified tax expert. No action should be taken based solely on the content of these memos. However, I hope the memos will help you ask the right questions of people who are qualified in these issues. First let me explain what FICA taxes are. FICA taxes are taxes that employees pay into the Social Security fund and the Medicare fund. The taxes in those fund accounts are used to provide you with Social Security and Medicare in your senior years. Employers also pay taxes into these funds. In 2013, workers are paying Social Security Taxes equal to 6.2% of their total earnings. Each month that amount is withheld from the worker’s check and sent to the Social Security fund. The worker’s employer pays the same amount into that fund. With regard to Social Security that 6.2% applies only to the first $113,700 in annual income. Any income over that amount is not taxed. Also, in 2013, workers are paying Medicare taxes equal to 1.45% of their wages. Employers pay the same amount of Medicare taxes for each employee. This tax is charged against the total wages of each employee. There is no upper limit on the wages taxed for Medicare. So, why might refunds be due? Before DOMA was overturned, if an employer offered health insurance to the same sex spouse of an employee, the IRS considered the value of that insurance to be taxable income paid to the employee. So, when computing the FICA taxes owed, the IRS said, for same sex married couples, the FICA taxes owed were a percentage of the wages paid plus the value of the insurance provided to the same sex spouse of the employee. By contrast the IRS did not charge FICA taxes against the value of health insurance provided to the opposite sex spouses of employees. Now that DOMA has been overturned FICA taxes are not charged against the value of health insurance provided to the same sex spouses of employees where the couple married in a state or nation that allows such marriages. In addition, both employers and employees may seek refunds of that part of the FICA taxes that were charged against the value of the same sex spouse’s health insurance in the years 2010, 2011 and 2012.
In California's Central Valley, MEUSA has been supporting a coalition of organizations to fight an attempt by the Porterville City Council to discriminate against the LGBTQ population. MEUSA's local organizer Melissa McMurrey has been at the forefront of a campaign to restore the city of Porterville's official designation of the month of June as "Pride Month," honoring those in the community who have made contributions to the city. Originally proclaimed by Porterville Mayor Virginia Gurolla, the designation was later rescinded in a 3-2 anti-LGBTQ vote by the city council. Following the rescission, the city council proceeded to remove the mayor from office. Following a 150+ participant rally in front of town hall, McMurrey continues to work with others to build a coalition and work to restore the designation and make the community a better place for its LGBTQ residents.
[caption id="attachment_368" align="alignleft" width="112"] Boyce Hinman[/caption] Authored by Boyce Hinman, founder and director of the California Communities United Institute, and member of Marriage Equality USA. Hinman has been writing and posting a series, "Monday Morning Marriage Memo," as part of his Anatomy for Justice blog. This article was first published there, and is republished here with the author’s permission. Hinman resides in and serves California, therefore the posts sometimes have a California slant. NOTE: Marriage Equality USA is not a legal firm or a tax/accounting firm. No action should be taken based solely on the content of our news blog or website. According to LexisNexis, approximately 55 percent of American adults do not have a will or other estate plan (such as a trust) in place. Among minorities, the numbers are higher: 68 percent of Black adults and 74 percent of Hispanic adults do not have one. For same sex couples who are not married, or in registered domestic partnerships, this can be very dangerous. Note: I am not an attorney or a qualified tax expert. No action should be taken based solely on the content of this memo. However, I hope this memo will help you ask the right questions of people who are qualified in these issues. If someone in California dies without a will or a trust, his or estate is distributed according to California’s Law of Intestate Succession, as found in Sections 6400-6414 of the California Probate Code. A lesbian or gay couple could have been living together for decades, but, if one of them dies and has left no will or other estate plan, and if they were not married or registered domestic partners, then the law considers them legal strangers. The survivor has no right to inherit any part of the deceased’s estate. If the deceased had owned their home the survivor wouldn’t even have a place to live. Even if they were married or registered domestic partners, without a will or trust, the survivor might have to share the estate with other family members of the deceased. It would not matter that the couple may have agreed that each of them wanted their soul mate to have everything when one of them died. Here are the details. First we need to understand some concepts. These are the concepts of “community property, ” “quasi-community property” and separate property. Under California law all earnings of married couples, during their marriage, are community property. They each own all of it. The same is true of registered domestic partners. Any property bought with those earnings is also community property. Earnings that were earned prior to their marriage are separate property. For example, suppose John retired before they married and he is getting a pension from his former employer. His monthly retirement check is his separate property. He earned that pension prior to their marriage, Property bought by one of them, prior to their marriage is separate property, and remains so during their marriage. If John kept his pension money separate (say in a separate bank account for himself) property bought with that money would be his separate property. Otherwise, property bought during their marriage, with community property earnings is also community property. Quasi-Community Property is property acquired by a married person or couple in a non-community property state that would have been community property if it had been acquired in a community property state. California is a community property state. So, if a couple here bought a vacation home in Oregon, it would be considered quasi-community property in California. Under California’s law of intestate succession, if a lesbian or gay couple never married or registered as domestic partners, and one of them dies without a will or other estate planning tool (such as a trust), the survivor gets none of the deceased person’s estate. Even if they were married, but one died without a will, California law treats the three types of property in different ways. The surviving spouse gets the half of the deceased’s part of their community property. Again, with quasi-community property, the survivor gets the half of the decedent’s share of their quasi-community property. But with separate property of the deceased, the surviving spouse or registered domestic partner gets all of it only if the deceased left no children, parents, brothers, sisters or children of those brothers and sisters. Depending on which of those relatives survives the deceased spouse, the surviving spouse could inherit as little as one third of the separate property of the deceased. So it is very important for even married couples, or registered domestic partners, to have either a will or some other estate planning tool so that there estate will go where they want it to go. One final point. Property that is passed to survivors through a will must go through probate court. That court process can take a long time and it can be expensive. Property passed through a trust does not go through probate. So, depending on the size of the estate, it might be preferable to use a trust rather than a will. Setting up trusts can be expensive too. So some say using this estate planning tool is only advisable if the estate is worth $100,000 or more.
[caption id="attachment_368" align="alignleft" width="112"] Boyce Hinman[/caption] Authored by Boyce Hinman, founder and director of the California Communities United Institute, and member of Marriage Equality USA. Hinman has been writing and posting a series, "Monday Morning Marriage Memo," as part of his Anatomy for Justice blog. This article was first published there, and is republished here with the author’s permission. Hinman resides in and serves California, therefore the posts sometimes have a California slant. NOTE: Marriage Equality USA is not a legal firm or a tax/accounting firm. No action should be taken based solely on the content of our news blog or website. The federal government requires that all same sex married couples either file joint federal income tax returns or file as married filing separately. This includes same-sex married couples. However, in 2010, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a ruling that affects the filing of federal income tax returns by registered domestic partners, as well. The key wording in that ruling is as follows: “For tax years beginning after December 31, 2006, A California registered domestic partner must report one-half of the community income, whether received in the form of compensation from personal services or income from property, on his or her federal income tax returns.” Note: I am not an attorney or a qualified tax expert. No action should be taken based solely on the content of these memos. However, I hope the memos will help you ask the right questions of people who are qualified in these issues. The ruling says the income of California domestic partners must be split evenly because California is a so called “Community Property” state. Under California law income earned while a couple is in a registered domestic partnership is community property. All that income is owned by both of them regardless of who earned it. There is at least one exception to the requirement of splitting the household income on the federal tax return. That exception has to do with when the income was earned, or when the property was purchased. If, for example, one of the partners retired before entering the partnership, and that person is receiving a pension, then that pension income is separate property and does not need to be divided and half shown on each federal tax returns. Similarly, if one of the partners bought a rental property, prior to entering the domestic partnership, the rental income from that property is not community property. The income from that property should be reported only on the federal income tax return of the person who bought it prior to the domestic partnership. Sadly, the IRS staff does not seem to be informed of the ruling. Once we heard of the ruling Larry and I started dividing our community income in half and each reported half of it on our federal returns. Each year the IRS responded with a letter saying I had under reported my bank account interest income and so I owed more taxes than I had paid. However, the issue was that our joint savings accounts had only my Social Security number attached to them. Each year I cleared up the problem by sending them a copy of the IRS ruling, plus a copy of our registration as domestic partners. You can see, and download, a copy of the IRS ruling by clicking on the following link and then scrolling down to and clicking n the link at the bottom of the web based copy of this article. Here is the link to get you started. IRS Ruling These are complicated matters. Anyone wanting to act on this information should definitely consult an expert on income taxes before taking that action.
[caption id="attachment_242" align="alignright" width="300"] Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (right) and MEUSA Board Chair Jane Wishon[/caption] With presentations by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and proclamations from California Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, Marriage Equality USA (MEUSA) hosted its first-ever Los Angeles Awards Reception on August 10. For pictures, event journal, and videos, go to www.marriageequality.org/la-awards. "We came together in LA at an historic moment to celebrate the Supreme Court’s marriage rulings and rededicate ourselves to making marriage equality a reality in all 50 states," said Brian Silva, Marriage Equality USA Executive Director. "It was extraordinarily successful." The event, which raised funds to help MEUSA fight for full marriage equality in all 50 states, brought together over 100 supporters and political, corporate, entertainment and community leaders at Union Station's Traxx Restaurant. Guests were treated to the sounds of legendary performer Irene Soderberg and musical team Sharper Image. Hosted by The Real L Word actress and advocate Raquel Castaneda, MEUSA presented awards to Los Angeles City Controller Ron Galperin (Ally Honoree), Robert John Russo Gallery (Corporate Honree) and Latino Equality Alliance (Community Partner Honoree). Each of the honorees have been longtime partners and supporters of both the issue of marriage equality, and MEUSA. "It is a great honor to receive an award from Marriage Equality USA, which has been integral in the fight to secure legally recognized civil marriage equality for all," said Controller Ron Galperin. "There is still much work to be done, however, to overcome discrimination and intolerance -- in California, nationally and internationally. I salute Marriage Equality USA for its great achievements and for its ongoing work and resolve." [caption id="attachment_241" align="alignleft" width="270"] Ari Gutierrez of Latino Equality Alliance accepts the Community Partner award surrounded by family, friends and LEA members.[/caption] "We are honored to be recognized by an organization such as Marriage Equality USA which has been, for almost 20 years, at the forefront of the fight to bring equality and fairness to all loving and committed California couples," commented Ari Gutierrez of the Latino Equality Alliance. “We are also celebrating many years of successful partnership between our organizations to advance LGBT equality.” Additional special guests included State Senator Ricardo Lara, Proposition 8 plaintiff's Jeff Zarillo & Paul Katami, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, West Hollywood Mayor Abbe Land, Long Beach Vice Mayor Robert Garcia, actor and GLAAD National Spokesperson Wilson Cruz, former Los Angeles Councilmember Bill Rosendahl, Los Angeles Councilmembers Mike Bonin and Mitch O'Farell and West Hollywood Councilmember John Heilman. By MEUSA Executive Director Brian Silva