Seven Ways The Downfall of DOMA Will Positively Affect Gay Couples Who Wish To Marry

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Erin Childs, Fresno divorce attorney and advocate for gay rights gives seven ways the downfall of the DOMA will positively affect gay couples who wish to marry.

Erin Childs Certified Family Law Specialist

The downfall of the DOMA will undoubtedly change the lives of millions adults and their children for the better. This is just a short list of the ways -- and a list that will continue to grow as the years pass.

Two Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage will forever change the lives and legal rights of gay couples who wish to marry. Now all marriages legally performed by states will be recognized by the federal government.

Since the Supreme Court also dismissed a case on Proposition 8, California's ban on same-sex marriage, California’s gay couples are now free to legally marry and enjoy the benefits of state and federal laws.

So, how will the downfall of DOMA affect you if you are gay and marry your partner? Here are just seven of the ways:

1. Inheritance
Now that DOMA has been deemed unconstitutional, legally married same-sex spouses can inherit their deceased spouse's property without paying estate taxes.

2. Health Care
Couples in states where same-sex unions are legal will now have access to a range of federal benefits relating to health care. They will now be able to receive employee health coverage more easily, and be eligible for medical leave and health benefits under COBRA.

3. Military Benefits
Military benefits will be made available to all military spouses following the Supreme Court's ruling, according to officials at the Department of Defense. Previously, same-sex spouses were not recognized by the federal government and were deprived the numerous benefits marriage bestowed.

4. United States Citizenship
Same-sex spouses who are American citizens will now be able to sponsor their non-citizen spouses for U.S. visas, and can qualify for immigration measures toward citizenship.

5. Social Security Benefits
The Supreme Court's ruling also affords social security survivor benefits to legally married same-sex couples. This means that in the event of death, gay people will be eligible to receive their deceased spouses' Social Security checks, if they amount to more than the ones currently being collected.

6. Income Tax Returns
In California, gay couples will be able to file joint state and federal taxes. Previously, married gay couples had to submit their state tax returns as if they were married (either filing separately or jointly), and their federal returns as if they were single. Now, taxes have become significantly less complicated for gay couples across the country.

7. Retirement Savings Rollover
Husbands and wives get special privileges when it comes to rolling over IRAs or 401(k)s for which they’re named as beneficiaries. Those spouses who inherit IRA's or 401(k)'s can wait until they are 70 and 1/2 to start withdrawing funds. That privilege has been historically limited to opposite-sex spouses.

The downfall of the DOMA will undoubtedly change the lives of millions adults and their children for the better. This is just a short list of the ways -- and a list that will continue to grow as the years pass.

Erin Childs is a Certified Family Law Specialist with the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization who practices in Fresno, Madera, Kern and Kings Counties in the areas of divorce, collaborative law, child custody, child visitation, child support, spousal support, guardianships, juvenile dependency, adoptions and complex property division issues. Contact her at http://www.childslawoffice.com and erin@childslawoffice.com for more information.

Special thanks to livescience.com and TimeMagazine.com for providing much of this content.

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Erin Rhames-Childs
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