by Chris Huckins Google+ Email 


06 October 2014

Does Obamacare Recognize Married Same Sex Couples?

Posted in Latest News

Does Obamacare Recognize Married Same Sex Couples?

The battle over gay marriage in California is rife with blood, sweat, and tears as any West Hollywood bar crawl. But it gets better. 

Beginning 2015, insurance companies cannot discriminate against same-sex couples by denying benefits they give to straight couples. Similarly, gay couples may be eligible for financial assistance for the first time under Obamacare.

On Monday, October 6 the Supreme Court declined to review cases that would ban same-sex marriage in 5 states, affecting 6 more states in the same Court of Appeals region. That brings the total to 30 states where gay couples can be married. 

Gay Marriage in California

California became the second state to legalize same-sex marriage on June 16, 2008 only to ban it November 15 with 52% of voters in favor of Proposition 8.

On Feburary 7, 2012, three circuit judges had a second look at gay marriage in California. And boy did it look fetch. 

In a 2-1 decision, Judges Stephen Reinhardt and Judge Michael Hawkins ruled that Proposition 8, "Did nothing more than lessen the status and dignity of gays and lesbians and classify their relationships as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples". It also violated the Equal Protection Clause. 

But Proposition 8 proponents requested a "stay", freezing gay marriage ceremonies until the Supreme Court reviewed the case. 

On June 28, 2013, SCOTUS ruled that Prop 8 defenders had no legal standing to appeal the case in court, but requested arguments from both sides.

On August 14. the Supreme Court rejected Proposition 8's challenge and once again gay marriage was legal in California. 

Coincidentally on the same day it invalidated Proposition 8, SCOTUS struck down Section 3 of DOMA (Defense Of Marriage Act). "DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment," Justice Kennedy wrote in his majority opinion.

Gay and straight couples are therefore entitled to equal access of "Social Security, housing, taxes, and veterans' benefits", including Obamacare's tax credits.

Where States Ban Gay Marriage

If a gay couple is wed in a state where same sex marriage is legal, the federal government must recognize their marriage even if they move to a state where gay marriage is banned.

Because SCOTUS didn't strike down the entire DOMA law, gay marriage bans remained in some states, but those states must still provide the aforementioned federal benefits. 

In September, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg speculated to a Minnesota audience when SCOTUS may look into marriage equality. Watch the 6th Circuit Courts she said. The Supreme Court may be forced to rule on gay marriage she said. 

If conservative judges in the 6th Circuit of Appeals, specifically: Kentucky, Ohio, and Michigan, uphold gay marriage bans they would contradict a majority of states that ruled gay marriage bans as unconstitutional, Ginsburg asserted.

The confusion would incentivize the Supreme Court to rule on DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) once and for all. 

Obamacare VS Gay Marriage

But there's no need to wait for court drama to sign up for health insurance with your spouse, even if you're both the same sex. 

Open enrollment starts November 15 with plans to begin January 1, 2015. Some couples are already fighting over whether to apply jointly or individually. What happened to "Till death do us file separately"? If you plan to be on the same health insurance application, you must file jointly on 2015's tax return. 

By filing jointly, both incomes will be factored into the insurance application, which may rank you out of the income bracket to qualify for financial assistance. So be mindful. Every married couple has the option to file as jointly or married and receive the appropriate benefits.

No matter what state you live in you are entitled to Obamacare's financial assistance. You simply must meet the qualifications like everyone else does. Gay or straight doesn't matter to a health insurance form.

Only 20 more states to go. 

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