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Monday, July 01 2013

HRC Public Hearing On Marriage Equality Resolution

From a Greenfield Human Rights Commission (HRC) press release: 

On Monday, July 8, 2013, at 6:00 PM in the Greenfield Town Hall meeting room, the Greenfield Human Rights Commission will hold a public hearing on a Marriage Equality Implementation Resolution to be addressed to President Obama, the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.  On June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court found the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act ( DOMA ) Section 3 to be unconstitutional. Further the Court found that the law was an assault on fundamental human rights. Justice Kennedy, for the majority, described DOMA as a federal statute that served "no legitimate purpose" and that the effect of the law was "to disparage and to injure those whom the state, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and in dignity."  The decision means that federal tax and other benefits accorded to heterosexual married couples will now be extended to same-sex couples who are legally married in their state.

In addition to implications for Social Security benefits, veterans benefits and child-care rights, the ruling that DOMA is unconstitutional has tax implications. Couples may be able to amend their prior years' tax returns to receive larger refunds now that their marriages are recognized by the federal government. Due to the inability to file joint tax returns, these same-sex married couples were denied deductions and credits allowed to married heterosexual couples, such as tax allowances offered to those selling a home and child-care related credits.

In this regard, President Obama has told his administration to guarantee that the same federal benefits extended to heterosexual married couples are equally extended to same-sex married couples "swiftly and smoothly."

The Commission's proposed resolution seeks to guarantee this by calling on the President and Congress to exempt any and all federal agencies tasked with the implementation of same-sex marriage equality, specifically including but not necessarily limited to, the Internal Revenue Service and the Social Security Administration, from the fiscal mandates of the federal sequestration, which has led to layoffs, furloughs and hiring freezes at these federal departments.

Commission chairman Lewis Metaxas said,  " Constitutional rights that are not immediately, fully and fairly implemented and protected are not effective constitutional rights."

Should the Commission pass the resolution, it would be the first resolution adopted in the history of the Greenfield Human Rights Commission.

Greenfield Town Councilor Karen Renaud, author and sponsor of the Greenfield Town Council's first diversity resolution, will be the guest speaker.

All residents of Greenfield and Franklin County are welcome to attend and encouraged to speak at the public hearing on the resolution.