Church Helps Gay Couples Understand the Future of Prop 8 and DOMA Ruling
Photo: Video by kmir6.com
PALM DESERT - Now that same-sex marriage is legalized once again in California, many couples will be heading to the altar; but the logistics of same-sex marriage given the new laws are a little tricky, at least for the time being. Given the U.S. Supreme Court’s narrow ruling of Prop 8 and DOMA, the how's and what's of the future of same-sex marriage are still a bit blurry. That's why St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Palm Desert held a round table to discuss what it all means on Thursday night. For 85 year old Rodger Harrison, he never thought he'd see the day he would be able to marry the person he loves. "I have a husband and I want to protect him when I die. Now, I don't even have to worry about the details of transferring him wealth. It will go to him automatically,” says Harrison.
Senior Pastor Lane Hensley at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church says some of the details aren't that cut and dry. "Real estate issues. How do you go into buying a home together when your relationship has changed? How do you deal with tax issues in a year of transition? We need to get to the nuts and bolts now that we’ve celebrated,” says Hensley. Lawyer for the round table Chris Heritage explains one benefit federally recognized married gay couples will get by relating it to a celebrity couple we all know. "Bill Gates could die today with a hundred billion dollars and he could pass that hundred billion on to his wife tax free. That same couple, that same-sex couple , if one dies, prior to DOMA, five million could have been transferred tax free and the rest would have to be taxed at 46%,” says Heritage.
He says it's not all positive because of the “Marriage Penalty”. "If you have two people that are married that make about the same amount of money, they tend to have to pay more in taxes than if you had two individuals filing separately making the same amount of money,” says Heritage. Also, what if you marry in a state where it's legal enjoying all the federal benefits and then move to a state where same sex marriage isn’t legal? "There's going to be a bit of a disconnect and some confusion around that and we would look to the Obama Administration to settle that through the various federal agencies,” says Heritage.
Some wonder why a church has taken such a pro-active stance on such a politically charged issue.
Hensley has an answer for them. "There's a significant gay constituency at St. Margaret’s, so that was part of our discernment. That was part of our learning about what God has in store for us; was looking at the people that he has put in front of us and who he gives us to love right here and seeing that God was doing some amazing work in their lives and was bearing the fruit of the holy spirit,” says Hensley. When it's all said and done, Harrison says having the same rights as straight people means less worry in the end. "When you get in the hospital, it's nice to have the one you love standing by your bed,” says Harrison.