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As gay couples queued up across Massachusetts to get licenses letting them legally marry last week, opponents and proponents of the state-sanctioned same-sex ceremonies acknowledged that the war over this controversial new right is just beginning. The Defense of Marriage Act (DoMA), signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996, still prohibits federal recognition of gay marriages and excuses other states from having to recognize them, too. It also defines marriage as being between one man and one woman. Consequently, the next battles will most likely be fought between states’ rights and federal entitlements. Envisioning the chaos ahead, Stephen Crampton, chief counsel for the Tupelo, Miss.-based American Family Association (AFA) Center for Law and Policy, said of the DoMA, “It’s one of those full employment for lawyers acts.” A certified financial planner in Watertown, Mass., called the rift “the abyss.” President George W. Bush on Monday again issued a statement calling for a federal constitutional amendment defining and “protecting marriage as a union of a man and a woman as husband and wife.” That same day, in Rowley, Mass., Selectman Lawton P. “Lane” Bourn III married his long-time partner, Stuart Wells. “On Tuesday, the sky was still there,” he said. “The world was still spinning.” Tax issues Because of DoMA, Bourn and Wells cannot file a joint federal tax return. Any joint return filed by a same-sex couple may be flagged as inaccurate, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) spokeswoman Nancy Mathis said. Bourn said that while he and Wells planned to file jointly in Massachusetts, they would most likely have to create a dummy joint federal return to derive numbers that plug into the Massachusetts return, and then file separate federal returns identifying them as single. Bourn added that he would include a note with his federal return saying roughly, “We are married, but filing as ‘single’ under DoMA. We’re not trying to do tax fraud or invalidate our marriage . . . rather we are forced to comply with this unfair provision of federal law, which penalizes us, unlike any other couple.” Echoing the IRS’ Mathis, Michael Orenstein, a spokesman for the federal Office of Personnel Management, said that DoMA also prohibits same-sex spouses of federal employees from getting federal benefits. Legally adopted children, however, would still be entitled to benefits if their adoptive parent was a federal employee, he added. Karin Blake, 61, is an estate planning attorney in Wellesley, Mass. On Friday, she married a woman who is seven years older. Nearing retirement, Blake said that she and her wife are worried about Social Security benefits. “Social Security is problematic because of DoMA,” she said. “Trying to take care of each other is what it’s all about,” Absent same-sex marriage recognition, “You kind of go in hobbled because you can’t use your Social Security the way others can. I’ve been paying into the system since 1968 and it will die with me. I would rather it go to my spouse.” Despite DoMA, 11 state governments-Connecticut, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Vermont, Wisconsin and Wyoming-have said that they will recognize same-sex marriages solemnized elsewhere, the planner, Debra Neiman, said. “You can’t rest on the laurels of a marriage license,” said Neiman, one of the founders of Pride Planners, a nationwide group of financial professionals serving gay couples. “More than ever, people need a belt-and-suspenders approach.” Because marriage in Massachusetts will automatically void any will that does not expressly provide for a spouse, Neiman said that she is telling her clients to do total estate planning before they wed, including wills, durable powers of attorney, health care proxies and, if necessary, prenuptial agreements. Asked if a same-sex prenuptial pacts made in Massachusetts would stand up elsewhere, she answered, “There are so many gray areas that this generates. We don’t know until we test it in court.” AFA’s Crampton, together with the Orlando, Fla.-based conservative group Liberty Counsel, led a late and unsuccessful federal court effort to stay the legalization of gay marriages in Massachusetts. That right was borne out of a ruling by that state’s Supreme Judicial Court last November in Goodridge v. Dep’t of Public Health, No. SJC-08860. “The ultimate battle at issue here is only now joined,” Crampton said. “By no means is it settled. One side’s got to give but I don’t think one side’s throwing in the towel. We certainly aren’t.” Taking a gentler approach, Bourn said: “As we go forward in life, this makes a world of difference to people who want to get married and no difference to anybody else.” On May 19, the Massachusetts Senate voted to repeal the 1913 law that Governor Mitt Romney is using to bar out-of-state gay couples from coming to the state to marry. The repeal must now go to the state House of Representatives.

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