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National, statewide gay groups use Tax Day as opportunity to protest Defense of Marriage Act

Several gay activist groups, including Refuse to Lie, HRC and Marriage Equality USA, have launched campaigns calling for repeal of DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits the federal government -- and the IRS -- from recognizing married gay couples.

From Refuse to Lie:

IRS Tells Married Couples to File as Single

litejazz_logo The federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) not only denies legally married gay couples the benefits of marriage, but we are also told to disavow our spouses and file our taxes as "single."

"Under penalties of perjury, I declare that I have examined this return and accompanying schedules and statements, and to the best of my knowledge and belief, they are true and complete."
                                                                                        -IRS Form 1040

Each year the federal government demands that thousands of gay married couples lie.

Across the country, legally married gay couples are taking a stand. We are refusing to lie about the fact that we are married.

Taking this principled stand is not without risk and each person doing so needs to carefully consider those risks before deciding if it is a stand you are willing to take.

From HRC:

HRC launching public awareness campaign to shine light on need for marriage equality and repeal of Discriminatory DOMA Law

WASHINGTON – With the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) still on the books and marriage equality a reality in only six states and the District of Columbia, millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans will once again file tax returns as second-class citizens.  The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organization, is educating Americans about the unfair tax burden faced by the LGBT community due to the few states where their relationships are recognized and the federal prohibition on recognition because of DOMA.  Discriminatory tax laws will cost LGBT families significantly more in taxes, and will deny them access to a whole range of federal benefits.

“Tax day is hard enough but discriminatory laws exacerbate the burden on LGBT Americans,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “Even for couples who are legally married, DOMA denies them equal rights and dignity that all families deserve.”

To raise awareness of the inequities same-sex couples face on tax day, HRC today released an issue brief on Federal Taxation, illustrating how same-sex couples are denied equal treatment under the tax law, are forced to spend more time and money filing their taxes, and face inconsistent interpretation and enforcement of IRS guidance and practice related to adoption.  The document is available at: http://www.hrc.org/files/assets/resources/IssueBrief_FederalTaxation.pdf.

HRC will be releasing a fact of the day on unfair taxation and encouraging supporters to use Facebook and Twitter to spread the message using the hashtag #gaytax.  Particularly supporters should tweet to House Speaker John Boehner (@speakerboehner) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (@ericcantor) their personal stories of tax inequality.  Boehner and Cantor continue to defend the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act in court at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer funds.  Learn more at www.hrcbackstory.org.  

The campaign will culminate on Tuesday, April 17 when HRC places a full-page ad in Politico, calling for a repeal of DOMA and marriage equality nationwide.

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

From Marriage Equality USA:

San Francisco • 16 April 2012 ― As millions of Americans file their income taxes, the local chapters of Marriage Equality USA will participate in the annual National Tax Day Protest at local post offices around the country on April 17, holding signs like “Twenty-Five Years Together, Still Filing Single” “No Taxation with Discrimination” and “Tax Us the Same, Treat Us the Same” to call attention to the tax inequities facing same-sex couples as a result of the state and federal laws that refuse to  recognize or extend civil marriage protections to same-sex couples. These actions highlight the ongoing moral and financial costs of denying marriage equality to same-sex couples—as well as the consequences paid by all Americans as a result of these discriminatory state and federal laws.

“We will stand up every year for equal taxation without discrimination, until we have full federal equality for all Americans,” said Billy Bradford, who will be leading the protest in Oakland, California.
Same-sex couples are forced to lie on their federal tax returns, explains Marriage Equality USA’s Thom Watson: “It's that crazy time of year again when the IRS requires you to affirm under penalty of law that you have been completely truthful on your taxforms, while simultaneously the Defense of Marriage Act actually mandates that some US couples lie on their tax forms. The federal government requires us to check off the ‘Single’ box on our 1040s, and to file as single, even when we're not. Our government forces us to lie, and charges us more for the privilege.”

Ellen Pontac, who will be leading the protest in Davis, California with her wife Shelly Bailes, explains another basic reason why tax time is even more cumbersome same-sex couples: “Same-sex Registered Domestic Partners and same-sex married couples in California are required to fill out a total of four income tax forms when different sex married couples need to fill out only two – making tax time doubly cruel for same-sex couples.”  
“Because of the additional requirements and complexity, most same-sex couples are forced by the government to spend more money and time to do their taxes than similarly situated opposite-sex couples,” added Thom Watson.
“We are encouraged by the recent successful legal challenges the so called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in federal courts. But until America fulfills its promise of equal justice under the law, tax day will continue to be an annual day of reckoning for how our couples and families face institutionalized discrimination – and are often forced to pay more than their fellow citizens to the same government that denies us equal rights,” concluded Stuart Gaffney, Marriage Equality USA Media Director.
For more detailed information about the unequal tax situation created by marriage inequality, please visit www.marriageequality.org/no-taxation-w-o

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