I’m getting married in 3 days and I’m having some reservations.
Not about my betrothed (she’s fabulous!) but rather about what’s going to happen when we come home after saying, “I do”.
We live in Arizona, one of the special states that have both a state statute and a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman. Here’s the thing: when I come home from California next week – married! – the federal government will see me as married; however the state of Arizona will see my wife and I as legal strangers.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has clarified their rules determining that if the state or country you were married in sees your marriage as legal, then the IRS says you’re married! I’m not sure when the last time I was excited about taxes and the IRS, but it was probably the last time I was thrilled by the clarifying rules from the Department of Labor; who incidentally also explained their use of the “place of celebration” determination versus the “place of residence”.
The “place of celebration” basically says if it was legal where you got married, you are married in the eyes of the federal government. The “place of residence” rule, one’s benefits based on where you live. The Department of Labor cited the “place of celebration’ determinant when it comes to benefits extended to spouses – all spouses. So can I cover my wife under my health insurance? Can I be listed as a spouse on our car insurance?
That’s why returning to Arizona is going to be interesting. There are a lot of unanswered questions in this patchwork of policies, rules, laws and how they’re blended at the federal, state and local levels. The trickle down of the rights and responsibilities of marriage are flowing like honey and not the celebratory champagne I expect.
Remember: this is the law now. It doesn’t matter how you feel about it or what you think about it. It’s the law. So what am I to do when my state government and my job see me as legally single? How far do I push for my rights at work since I live in one of the multitude of states where I can be legally fired for being queer? I don’ delude myself to think that I’m special – my family is not unique. Millions of folks are going through the same thing – being treated unequally under the law simply for who we are and who we love.
We’ve seen the issue of marriage evolve publicly from “gay” marriage to same-sex marriage to marriage equality. We all know that we each have our own coming out process and I guess my government is no different.