What the DOMA Repeal Means in Virginia


The recent Supreme Court ruling overturning DOMA is an undeniable step towards equality for gay and lesbian couples throughout the United States.  Even in states like Virginia – where same-sex marriage is not yet recognized – there is good news!

Many federal benefits will apply to married couples based on place of celebration rather than place of residence.  This includes same-sex couples who were married in another state, but call Virginia home.

As we learn more, we’ll keep you updated.  Here’s what we know so far:

  •  Same-sex married couples residing in Virginia will get federal tax recognition. All federal tax provisions – including filing status, employee benefits, IRA contributions, earned income, child tax credits, and income, gift and estate taxes, will apply to same-sex married couples regardless of the state in which they live.
  • All beneficiaries in private Medicare plans – regardless of sexual orientation or state residence – now have access to equal coverage when it comes to care in a nursing home where their spouse lives.
  •  The Department of Defense will now offer the same benefits to all military spouses, regardless of sexual orientation or state residence.
  • Same-sex married couples now have the same immigration rights as heterosexual married couples.  Non-Americans who are married to a U.S. citizen will get the same consideration when applying for legal status, regardless of sexual orientation.   Have you seen the heart-warming story about Sofia and Sydney, a bi-national couple living in Richmond?
  • Federal employees and retirees who are in a same-sex marriage and live in Virginia will be offered the same benefits for their spouses and families as their heterosexual counterparts. These benefits include health insurance, life insurance, dental and vision insurance, long-term care insurance, flexible spending accounts, and retirement.

It isn’t all good news.  Unfortunately, some benefits are currently defined by which state married same-sex couples reside, instead of the place of celebration:

  •  The Federal Election Commission will allow same-sex married couples to make a single campaign contribution to a federal candidate from a joint bank account.   However, this right is currently limited to those who live in states that recognize same-sex marriages.
  • For now, it is unclear  if social security spousal benefits will be available for same-sex married couples living in states like Virginia that do not recognize same-sex marriage.   Regardless of what state you reside in, the Social Security Administration encourages everyone who believes he or she may be eligible to apply for benefits.

While the DOMA ruling and resulting federal guidelines are a big step forward, our work in Virginia is far from over.   Until the Marshall-Newman marriage amendment is repealed, Virginia will continue to prohibit the recognition of same-sex marriage and limit the benefits available to Virginia’s married same-sex couples.   In addition, LGBT Virginians can still be fired or not hired just because of their real or perceived sexual orientation.

We need your support more than ever.    With all the momentum resulting from the DOMA ruling, now is the time – and we can’t do it without you!

Here is what you can do to help:

  1. Is your relationship legally recognized outside of Virginia?  If you left the state to receive a marriage license, civil union or domestic partnership, help us change hearts and minds.  Join our marriage registry.
  2. Stay informed by checking our DOMA page for updates.
  3. Make a contribution to support our work!