Archive for August, 2013

Gov. Corbett: Analogy of same-sex couples like children “inappropriate”

August 30, 2013

As reported by the Associated Press, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett said yesterday that it was inappropriate for his lawyers to include a reference to children in a legal brief involving same-sex couples seeking marriage licenses.

The administration has filed a lawsuit seeking to block same-sex marriage licenses in suburban Philadelphia, where Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes has issued more than 150 to gay and lesbian couples since July 24.

State attorneys said in a court filing Wednesday that same-sex couples seeking to intervene in the state’s lawsuit should be blocked from doing so because they had no legal right to marry in the first place. The lawyers then made an analogy to a pair of 12-year-olds, saying if the children were issued a marriage license and tried to defend it in court, they wouldn’t be taken seriously because the license was never valid.

“Had the clerk issued licenses to twelve-year-olds in violation of state law, would anyone seriously contend that each twelve-year-old has a legally enforceable ‘interest’ in his ‘license’ and is entitled to a hearing on the validity of his ‘license,’ else his due process rights be violated?” the brief said. “Obviously not.”

Corbett released a statement yeaterday calling it a poor analogy.

“The case involving Montgomery County revolves around a very basic question: Does a public official have the authority to disregard state law based on his own personal legal opinion about the constitutionality of a statute?” he said. “The analogy chosen in the legal brief filed on August 28th is inappropriate.”

Corbett had come under fire from Democrats and advocacy groups. Equality Pennsylvania issued a statement earlier Thursday taking his lawyers to task over the legal argument.

“If there is one thing we can all agree on, it’s that all people deserve to be treated with respect,” said the group’s executive director, Ted Martin. “The statements made by the attorneys do not simply defend the laws of the state; they deny loving, committed same-sex couples the dignity they deserve.”

All Legal Same-Sex Marriages Will Be Recognized for Federal Tax Purposes

August 29, 2013

Ruling Provides Certainty, Benefits and Protections Under Federal Tax Law for Same-Sex Married Couples

The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) today ruled that same-sex couples, legally married in jurisdictions that recognize their marriages, will be treated as married for federal tax purposes. The ruling applies regardless of whether the couple lives in a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage or a jurisdiction that does not recognize same-sex marriage.

The ruling implements federal tax aspects of the June 26th Supreme Court decision invalidating a key provision of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.

“Today’s ruling provides certainty and clear, coherent tax filing guidance for all legally married same-sex couples nationwide. It provides access to benefits, responsibilities and protections under federal tax law that all Americans deserve,” said Secretary Jacob J. Lew. “This ruling also assures legally married same-sex couples that they can move freely throughout the country knowing that their federal filing status will not change.”

Under the ruling, same sex couples will be treated as married for all federal tax purposes, including income and gift and estate taxes. The ruling applies to all federal tax provisions where marriage is a factor, including filing status, claiming personal and dependency exemptions, taking the standard deduction, employee benefits, contributing to an IRA, and claiming the earned income tax credit or child tax credit.

Any same-sex marriage legally entered into in one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, a U.S. territory, or a foreign country will be covered by the ruling. However, the ruling does not apply to registered domestic partnerships, civil unions, or similar formal relationships recognized under state law.

Legally-married same-sex couples generally must file their 2013 federal income tax return using either the “married filing jointly” or “married filing separately” filing status.

Individuals who were in same-sex marriages may, but are not required to, file original or amended returns choosing to be treated as married for federal tax purposes for one or more prior tax years still open under the statute of limitations.

Generally, the statute of limitations for filing a refund claim is three years from the date the return was filed or two years from the date the tax was paid, whichever is later. As a result, refund claims can still be filed for tax years 2010, 2011, and 2012. Some taxpayers may have special circumstances (such as signing an agreement with the IRS to keep the statute of limitations open) that permit them to file refund claims for tax years 2009 and earlier.

Additionally, employees who purchased same-sex spouse health insurance coverage from their employers on an after-tax basis may treat the amounts paid for that coverage as pre-tax and excludable from income.

PA State Attorneys on Same-sex Couples: Like Marriages Between 12-year Olds

August 29, 2013

Equality Pennsylvania today (Aug. 29, 2013) called for respect in response to comments made in a lawsuit against same-sex marriage that compared committed same-sex couples to children.

In a lawsuit filed against the Montgomery County Register of Wills, Pennsylvania state attorneys compared same-sex couples to children, saying that marriages between committed gay couples are invalid, like marriages between 12 year olds.

In response to these comments, Ted Martin, executive director of Equality Pennsylvania, the state’s leading advocacy organization for gay and transgender people, released the following statement:

“Although the Governor’s position on marriage for same-sex couples is increasingly out-of-touch with the majority of Pennsylvanians, we understand that he must defend the laws of the state.

However, if there is one thing we can all agree on, it’s that all people deserve to be treated with respect. The statements made by the attorneys do not simply defend the laws of the state; they deny loving, committed same-sex couples the dignity they deserve.

We’re talking about couples who have been together for decades, who have built families together, who have given back to communities across Pennsylvania. We’re not talking about children.”

Phila. Theater Review: Mauckingbird and Wilde – Perfect Together!

August 22, 2013

By Debra Miller, Philadelphia Arts and Culture Correspondent

Philadelphia’s Mauckingbird Theatre Company delivers farce at its finest with a hilarious gender-bent version of Oscar Wilde’s 1895 comedy “The Importance of Being Earnest.” A superb ensemble, brilliantly directed by Founding Artistic Director Peter Reynolds, explodes the conventions of class consciousness, proper etiquette, and social façadism with Mauckingbird’s signature post-gay focus on universal experience through the lens of same-sex romance. In short, there couldn’t be a more perfect pairing than Mauckingbird and Wilde!

. The cast of Mauckingbird’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” (photo by Luis Fernando Rodriguez)

. The cast of Mauckingbird’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” (photo by Luis Fernando Rodriguez)

The British upper-crust characters are played with panache in consistently well-gauged performances, chock full of comedic flourishes and idiosynchrasies. From lead actors Chancellor Dean and James Ijames as the deceitful dandies Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff, to Brent Knobloch and David Hutchison as their petulant and coquettish young loves Gwendolen and Cecily (now boys, but retaining Wilde’s original female names), to Darryl Gene Daughtry, Jr. and Mitchell Bloom as the amused and attentive manservants Lane and Merriman, the men in the cast will keep you laughing at their flamboyant aristocratic posturings and romantic machinations.

Chancellor Dean and Brent Knobloch in Mauckingbird’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” (photo by Luis Fernando Rodriguez)

Chancellor Dean and Brent Knobloch in Mauckingbird’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” (photo by Luis Fernando Rodriguez)

The three female members of the ensemble turn in equally rollicking characterizations, with Sarah Doherty as the prim and prissy governess Miss Prism and Lindsay Mauck as the Rev. Dr. Chasuble (here a woman)–whose mutual attraction and nervous flirtations unleash their repressed sexuality–and the extraordinary Nancy Boykin as Lady Bracknell, a paragon of laughable imperiousness, snobbery, and intolerance.

Mauckingbird’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” features David Hutchison and James Ijames (photo by Luis Fernando Rodriguez)

Mauckingbird’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” features David Hutchison and James Ijames (photo by Luis Fernando Rodriguez)

Exquisite Victorian-era costumes by Marie Anne Chiment and a rich scenic design by Andrew Laine, which cleverly shifts from drawing room to garden, set the lavish style and elitist mood for the traditional period piece, here given contemporary relevance through the production’s unconventional casting. “The Importance of Being Earnest” runs through Sunday, August 25, at the Off-Broad Street Theater, 1636 Sansom St., Philadelphia. For tickets, call the box office at 215.923.8909, or visit the website at
www.mauckingbird.org. You’ll be glad that you did!

State Rep. Frankel Urges Action to End LGBT Discrimination in PA

August 19, 2013

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, today (Aug. 19, 2013) released the following statement in regard to H.B. 300, his bipartisan bill to amend Pennsylvania’s Human Relations Act to ban discrimination on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression:

PA House Democratic Caucus Chairman Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny

PA House Democratic Caucus Chairman Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny

“Today, I sent a letter to Representative Daryl Metcalfe, chair of the House State Government Committee, urging him to schedule hearings, and ultimately a vote, on House Bill 300. In light of Chairman Metcalfe’s comment last week where he appeared to support continued legalized discrimination against workers and renters, it is more clear than ever that all Pennsylvanians do indeed need protection against discrimination. Too many Pennsylvanians have the misfortune of working for a boss with a discriminatory bias like Chairman Metcalfe — a boss who believes the person you go home to is more important than the quality of your work.

“Pennsylvania’s citizens have spoken clearly – 72 percent of us agree that we need to protect our LGBT relatives, friends and neighbors from discrimination in the areas of employment, housing and public accommodations. House Bill 300 – sponsored by 91 members of the House – would provide these protections and I am urging the chairman of the State Government Committee to move the bill forward. In the 1960s, opponents of interracial marriage argued that it violated their religious beliefs. That argument didn’t hold water for couples from different backgrounds, and it doesn’t hold water for gay and lesbian employees and couples either.”

“Governor Corbett is on record stating that better enforcement of existing laws is the answer. Unfortunately, as Representative Metcalfe freely admitted last week, there is no existing state law offering the statewide protections for LGBT Pennsylvanians that House Bill 300 would provide.

“The time is now, governor. The time is now, Chairman Metcalfe. Let’s move House Bill 300 forward. The 72 percent of Pennsylvanians – more than 9 million citizens, including 115 members of the General Assembly – who support this deserve a hearing and a vote.”