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DOMA Stories:
Federal Marriage Discrimination Hurts Families

GLAD is in court challenging the federal government's discrimination against legally married same-sex couples. In Gill v OPM and Pedersen v OPM, we represent couples and widowers who are harmed in various ways by DOMA. But DOMA hurts many more people than we can represent in these lawsuits.

In these stories, loving couples, widows and widowers, from all walks of life, describe how DOMA hurts their families.

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DOMA is Taxing Our Children’s Future

Photograph of Mary Ritchie & Kathy Bush

Mary Ritchie & Kathy Bush

This week, GLAD filed an amended complaint in our lawsuit challenging Section 3 of DOMA, Gill v. OPM, which updates the tax overpayments of three of our plaintiff couples due to their inability to file their federal income tax returns as married. Unlike heterosexual spouses, each couple must instead file as either a single individual or head of household when they have dependent children.

How has that disparity impacted plaintiffs Mary Ritchie and Kathy Bush? Well, the Framingham couple has paid a whopping $19,066 more in federal taxes than if they had been able to file jointly in the years between 2004 and 2008.

“We have two kids, and that’s money we could use for current expenses or to save for college,” says Kathy.
Mary and Kathy have been together for nearly 20 years. They married in 2004 at their home in Framingham, surrounded by friends, neighbors, and family, including their sons 11-year-old Ryan and 9-year-old William.

Kathy, originally from Framingham, decided to stop working after Ryan was born so she could stay home with the boys full-time. Mary is a Boston native and has been a state trooper for more than two decades. As a Lieutenant in the state police force, she risks her safety every day to protect her community.

In addition to being penalized on their federal taxes, if Mary were killed in the line of duty, the federal government would deny Kathy the benefits the government pays to officers’ surviving spouses. Kathy also wouldn’t be eligible for the education benefit for surviving spouses—which she would need to reenter the workplace.

“Every time a member of law enforcement dies in the line of duty, we’re reminded of how vulnerable our family is,” says Mary. “The federal government provides a safety net for the families of public safety officers who die, including a death benefit and an education benefit for surviving spouses. But because the federal government discriminates against our marriage, if something happened to me, Kathy would get nothing.”

“We have the same struggles and the same commitment as other families. Mary works, I stay home, we have two boys, a dog, and a cat—and frogs, fish, and a hermit crab,” says Kathy. “We work hard, pay taxes, volunteer, and do our part for our community. But the federal government still tells us we’re less of a family than other families in our neighborhood—families Mary works to protect.”

More about Mary and Kathy

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