Complications for Same-Sex Marriage: Place of Celebration vs. Residence

Here is a discussion that was missing from quite a lot of the celebration yesterday...thankfully so, that is. Now comes more work.


The tricky part in the fall of DOMA involves how states and federal agencies currently recognize marriage.

Some federal agencies adhere to what is known as a "place of celebration" standard. That means no matter where a couple is legally married anywhere in the world, the union is recognized for the purpose of federal benefits.

But other agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service and the Social Security Administration, hew to a "place of residence" standard. Marriage has to be recognized in the place the couple is living for them to be eligible for those federal spousal benefits.

"Every agency of government has, quite literally, a different standard for recognizing marriage," Sainz says. "They did not consult one another — and it has nothing to do with being gay or straight, they just have different standards."

Here's one example that points to the complexity to come: The Department of Defense has a "place of celebration" marriage standard for active-duty military. But the Department of Veterans Affairs has a "place of residence" standard.

While some definitions are set by regulation, others — including those used by Social Security and Veterans Affairs — are set by federal law, further complicating the DOMA rollback.

"It's a patchwork that makes no sense," Sainz says.


Tamayn Irraniah said…
It's as if the people behind these laws weren't thinking about the consequences of their actions, and were just acting based on pure animus. Oh, wait..... If Ohio still hasn't passed marriage equality by the time I move back, I'll be leading the charge.
Writer said…
Tamayn, I imagine just getting the laws passed is seen as more important than any kind of consistency. :(

Popular Posts