Still unclear is whether the IRS will recognize marriages of couples living in places like Florida. Will federal tax rules be based on state of marriage celebration or domicile? For instance, will a New York widower collecting his late husbands Social Security payment still be eligible if he retires to Florida?
This needs to be ironed out, said David Treece, a Miami financial planner. There may be laws, there may be an act of Congress that has to happen, so that everything is standardized for people who live in states that dont have same-sex marriage.
Lives have been financially wrecked by antigay laws, said Treece, president of Treece Financial Group.
I knew a gay couple, they were together 48 years, Treece said. One of them had a larger Social Security check and he passed away first. The other one, he worked as an interior designer and he never really made much money, and he had a minimal check. When his partner of 48 years passed away, it meant bankruptcy. There was no way he could continue to pay debts they had and he did not inherit that larger check. It would have made a huge difference.
Joanna Mora, an Accredited Domestic Partnership Advisor with Wells Fargo Advisors in Coral Gables, said that until the federal issues are worked out and as long as Florida is permitted to not recognize same-sex marriages gay and lesbian couples must continue to protect themselves the old way, with contracts and other legal agreements.
Transfer of wealth, federal taxes, retirement planning, medical and end of life. All those issues apply whether there is DOMA or DOMA is repealed, Mora said.
In a traditional marriage, if a husband dies, his wife gets everything, she said. When you have a same-sex couple thats not quote-unquote legally married, they have to a legal agreement, a will or a trust. Whatever their attorney decides.
Even simple legal procedures can be complicated for married gay couples in Florida.
After he married Blackburn, Deven Chism decided to take his husbands surname.
In Florida, if you say youre changing your name because of same-sex marriage, they wont let it go through, said Deven, a project manager at the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association in Wilton Manors. If we had been a heterosexual couple, on the day we were married I could have submitted a piece of paper for the name change.
Instead, it took almost a year to make the change. He had to submit a criminal background check and be fingerprinted. Total cost for the name change: about $1,000.
Sometimes the Blackburns wonder whether its worth staying in Florida.
Were really ingrained in the community. We have our businesses here, friends, Deven said. I would rather stay and fight at this moment until there is a final, definitive No, this wont happen. Thats when I give up.