October 16, 2014
Nanette Lee Miller, Co-Leader of the LGBT Practice Group, Quoted in The Motley Fool Article, "30 States and Counting: Same-Sex Married Couples Are Winning Equal Financial Rights."
By Selena Maranjian
For a long time in the United States, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, community has fought for equal rights - and lost. Sure, there were victories here and there, but there were also many setbacks. But in the past decade, the times truly have been changing. A majority of the 50 states have adopted marriage equality and given same-sex married couples the same rights as heterosexual married couples.
The acceptance of same-sex marriage has accelerated in the past five years, rising from from 37% to 54%. Even more encouraging for supporters, a large majority of younger Americans (those aged 18 to 29) favor marriage equality - even among Republicans. Per a Pew survey this year, fully 61% of Republicans aged 18 to 29 support marriage equality versus only 22% of Republicans 65 and older. Time is on the LGBT movement's side.
The snowball: 30 states and counting
The growth rate in the number of states legalizing marriage for same-sex couples has also been picking up. Massachusetts was first, a decade ago in 2004, and it stood alone until it was joined by Connecticut four years later. At last count, 30 states plus the District of Columbia now permit marriage for same-sex couples, while 19 states still have constitutional bans in place, and one, Wyoming, has a statutory ban. For a while, civil unions were offered as a compromise in some states, but they are not offered by any state today.
With the U.S. government and the IRS now recognizing same-sex marriages, many inequalities and extra taxes have been eliminated at the federal level. But each state has been left on its own regarding taxation and other rules. While most states now recognize same-sex marriages, gaps remain for many LGBT couples. Nanette Lee Miller, of the Marcum accounting firm's LGBT and nontraditional family practice, has noted:
We still have 50 states with 50 different sets of rules, but being able to file jointly in your state of domicile greatly simplifies matters for married couples whose marriages were not previously recognized at the state level. In addition and perhaps more significantly, the ability to consider marital assets for trust and estate planning purposes is a tremendous new benefit available to these families. There are still 24 states that do not recognize same-sex marriages, and that means separate calculations and separate state and federal filings for taxpayers in those states, or those with assets there.