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Cases Supreme Court may review carry far reaching implications
From a Williams Institute press release
2012-11-29

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LOS ANGELES, CA —Williams Institute data suggests the significant impact on LGBT families of the cluster of cases involving the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), California's Proposition 8 and an Arizona partner benefits law that the U.S. Supreme Court is considering whether to review this term. These cases raise questions regarding federal recognition of same-sex couples' valid marriages under state law and state recognition of the relationships of same-sex couples.

"Given that multiple circuit courts have found DOMA's Section 3 unconstitutional, the Court has an important opportunity to provide nationwide answers regarding the validity or invalidity of this federal statutory provision, said Nan Hunter," Legal Scholarship Director, Williams Institute, and Associate Dean Professor of Law and Georgetown University Law Center.

The Court's decisions regarding which cases to accept for review and, and how it decides those cases, will have far reaching implications for the LGBT community. Experts at the Williams Institute, a leading research institute on sexual orientation and gender identity law and policy at the UCLA School of Law are available to discuss what research shows about the potential implications of these cases.

"The cases that the Supreme Court is considering whether to review could potentially affect hundreds of thousands of same-sex couples and their families in the United States. Research on the lives and experiences of LGBT people and their families has been critical in legal analysis of disparate treatment of same-sex couples under the law, including in some of the cases that the Supreme Court is considering," said David Codell, Visiting Arnold D. Kassoy Senior Scholar of Law and Legal Director.

Cases Concerning DOMA & Federal Recognition of Married Same-Sex Couples:

The DOMA cases raise questions about federal recognition of same-sex couples legally married under state law. Research summarized below provides information about same-sex couples and potential consequences of recognizing their marriages.

Of approximately 645,000 same-sex couples nationally, 50,000 have entered into legal marriages in the United States. See study.

One in five same-sex couples in the U.S. now lives in a jurisdiction where they can marry, and 16% of the U.S. population lives in states where same-sex couples can marry.

Approximately 38% of same-sex partners (more than 430,000 people) would be eligible for time off of work to care for same-sex spouses if the Family and Medical Leave Act covered same-sex partners. See study.

30,200 same-sex spouses of federal employees would be eligible for employee benefits that are currently provided to employees with different-sex spouses. See study.

68,000 spouses of veterans would be eligible for benefits including pensions, educational assistance, and vocational training. [Analysis of 2009 ACS PUMS, 2011]

41,000 same-sex couples would no longer have to pay 11% more than different-sex couples in taxes for employer-sponsored healthcare. See study.

Surviving spouses of same-sex couples would gain access to partners' social security income, which could add over $5,700 to monthly income to the surviving spouse. See study.

An estimated 28,500 bi-national same-sex couples would be eligible to use the immigration preferences available to different-sex spouses. See study.

There would be a reduction in the stress that comes from social exclusion and stigma and that can lead to adverse health outcomes such as depression, anxiety, substance use disorders, and suicide attempts.

Cases Concerning Proposition 8 and State Recognition of Same-Sex Couples:

Hollingsworth v. Perry, the federal challenge to California's ban on marriage by same-sex couples (Proposition 8), raises questions about state recognition of same-sex couples. The research below provides information about California's same-sex couples and potential implications of recognizing their relationships.

There are nearly 100,000 same-sex couples living in California.

In California, 28,312 same-sex California couples identified as spouses on their Census 2010 form, 27% of whom (7,676 couples) were raising children.

A 2010 survey indicated that over 24,000 same-sex California couples were likely to marry within the next three years if permitted to do so. [Williams Institute Same-sex Couple Survey, 2010]

If California recognized same-sex marriage, 35% of same-sex couples in the U.S. would live in states where they can marry; and 28% of the U.S. population would live in states where same-sex couples can marry.

Extending marriage to same-sex couples has a positive economic impact. Wedding spending in Maine, Maryland and Washington could generate over $166 million in the first three years. In California alone, weddings could generate almost $290 million in new spending over three years.

Recent research shows that when same-sex couples are allowed to marry, they gain social support from their families and a greater level of commitment to each other.

Same-Sex Couples in Arizona

Approximately 15,800 same-sex couples live in Arizona and 16% are raising children. See study.

Providing domestic partnership benefits to same-sex couples will likely decrease spending related to Medicaid and uncompensated health care for uninsured people, while slightly increasing healthcare costs.

The Williams Institute advances sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy through rigorous, independent research and scholarship, and disseminates it to judges, legislators, policymakers, media and the public. A national think tank at UCLA Law, the Williams Institute produces high quality research with real-world relevance. For more information go to: www.law.ucla.edu/williamsinstitute/home.html


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