Friday, January 10 2014, 10:22 PM MST
Good Question: What Federal Rights Come with Marriage?
(KUTV) Beginning on December 20th and lasting for 17 days, same-sex couples were getting married in Utah.
This week, the Supreme Court halted future same-sex marriages in Utah while a court case challenging Utah's constitutional definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman works its way through federal judicial system.
As for those already wed during that brief window, the state of Utah has said they will not recognize the marriages. But in an interesting juxtaposition Friday, the federal government says they will honor the Utah marriage certificates already issued to some 1300 gay couples.
It raises a good question: what specific rights do married-in-Utah same-sex couples get from the feds that they do not get from the state?
According to the nonprofit group Human Rights Campaign, there are 1,138 benefits, rights and protections provided on the basis of marital status in federal law.
These are a few of the biggies:
1 - Social Security payments. If a married person dies, their spouse has the right to collect the deceased's social security.
2 - Tax breaks. According to the Government Accountability Office, there are 179 tax provisions that take marital status into account.
3 - Health benefits. A married person working for the federal government's spouse is eligible to be added to the worker's federal health insurance plan.
4 - Medical leave. The Family and Medical Leave Act guarantees family and medical leave to employees to care for parents, children or spouses.
5 - Immigration law. When a U.S. Citizen marries a noncitizen, the immigrant can get a green card or permanent visa to stay in the United States indefinitely.
The above are all rights for which wed same-sex couples will continue to be eligible even as the state of Utah denies marital status to same sex couples legally married in the state of Utah … or any other state where same sex marriage is legal for that matter.
By Matt Gephardt
Edited by Nick Stam
(Copyright 2014 Sinclair Broadcasting Group)