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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Lambda Legal eNewsletter

Lambda Legal.

Kevin Cathcart.
In Brief
by Kevin Cathcart
Executive Director
Lambda Legal
Last week was a momentous one for LGBT people, and we at Lambda Legal are working double-time to field questions about what it all means.
Wednesday the 23rd brought a triple victory. The Obama administration and the Department of Justice said they would no longer defend Section 3 of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The same day, the new governor of Hawai`i signed civil unions into law and the Maryland Senate voted 25-21 in favor of a marriage equality bill.
On all three fronts, Lambda Legal has been in the trenches, fighting. Read more »
Ask Lambda Legal
Q: I just read a news article that says that as of this year, married same-sex couples in California must "split their income" on their federal tax returns for 2010. What does this mean, do I and my wife have to do it and, uh … is this good or bad?
A: The new IRS policy is mandatory for income earned in 2010 (returns for which are filed in 2011) and affects not just you and your wife, but all married couples in California—whether same-sex or different-sex—as well as all registered domestic partners (RDPs) in California, Nevada and Washington. Those are the three states that both have "community property" laws and that also recognize that same-sex couples can acquire community property. There are a total of 10 states with community property laws, but seven of those states (Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Louisiana, New Mexico, Texas and Wisconsin) have not yet applied those laws to same-sex relationships. Read more »
Events Around the Country
Lambda Legal regions map.
Lambda Legal in the News
Legal Director Jon Davidson predicts in The Advocate that the Obama administration's shift on DOMA will prove to be the tipping point for marriage equality.
"To have the nation's president and highest law enforcement agency conclude that discrimination based on sexual orientation should be approached as being of dubious validity," Davidson writes, "will send out ripples, if not waves, touching all laws that continue to oppress lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals."
Read more media coverage in Lambda Legal's In the News.

Watch Legal Director Jon Davidson discuss the so-called Defense of Marriage Act.

Our Social Networks
MySpace. Flickr.
Facebook. Youtube. twitter.

Liberty Awards.
Liberty Awards National Dinner
May 2, 2011 | 6:00 to 11:00 pm
Pier 60, Chelsea Piers, 23rd St. and the Hudson River, New York City

Join us in 2011 for our flagship annual event. For more info, please contact Adam Pedersen-Doherty at 212-809-8585, ext. 289.

Justice Department.
DOMA Is Still in Force
The Justice Department said Monday that it will continue to deny spousal health benefits to a lesbian federal employee and Lambda Legal client, despite last week's historic announcement that the U.S. Department of Justice has determined that the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. Read more »

Lambda Legal.
Next Stop, Marry-land?
Lambda Legal Director of Constitutional Litigation Susan Sommer testified before the Maryland House Judiciary Committee in favor of a bill that would allow same-sex couples to marry. The State Senate approved the measure last week. Read more »

Lambda Legal.
Victory in Hawai`i
The Aloha State is the latest to establish civil unions, effective Jan. 1, 2012. Lambda Legal's efforts to protect same-sex relationships in Hawai`i date back to the nation's first marriage equality wins in a state high court and then at trial, in the mid-1990s. Read more »

Lambda Legal.
Let California Couples Wed
Lambda Legal and three other LGBT legal and advocacy groups filed a joint brief Tuesday asking a federal appeals court to allow same-sex couples again to marry in California, as the federal trial court says should happen, while the Prop 8 case is on appeal. The federal appeals court has lengthened the appeals process by asking the California Supreme Court whether state law gives Prop 8's sponsors a right to appeal, and the state court's answer is expected by the end of the year, at the earliest. Read more »

Lambda Legal.
"It's an Issue of Equal Pay"
Lambda Legal argued before a federal appeals court that the state of Arizona has no valid reason for essentially placing its lesbian and gay employees on a lower pay scale than heterosexuals by denying them any access to family health insurance. The oral arguments on Feb. 14 were part of a case to block a law stripping domestic partner benefits from gay and lesbian state employees. Read more »

Lambda Legal.
Bad Counsel
Lambda Legal filed a friend-of-the-court brief Feb. 11 in a case involving a counseling student dismissed from Eastern Michigan University for refusing to treat LGBT patients. Three months ago, we participated in a similar case in Georgia. The Alliance Defense Fund, the antigay group representing both students, boasts a $20 million budget devoted to bringing similar lawsuits against public universities around the country. Read more »
Lambda Legal.
"Cruel and Unusual Punishment"
A federal appeals court heard oral arguments Feb. 7 in a case defending the right of transgender people to receive medical care while they are incarcerated. Lambda Legal is co-counsel with the ACLU. Under Wisconsin law, prison doctors are prohibited from prescribing transition-related health care to transgender inmates, even when medically necessary. Read more »

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Plan Ahead
As millions of Americans prepare their taxes, now is the perfect time to sit down and plan for your life and financial future as well. LGBT people face unique challenges when dealing with issues we all must face, from wills to health care proxies. Downloading Take the Power: Tools for Life and Financial Planning is a great way to start to get organized. Careful planning can reduce stress, save you money and bring peace of mind. Planning for your future may also mean that you can enjoy substantial tax benefits and gain the certainty of an income stream for yourself, all while supporting Lambda Legal (through a Charitable Gift Annuity). For more information about how to include Lambda Legal in your life and estate plans contact Judi O'Kelley at As always, when it comes to estate planning, it's important that you consult with an attorney and/or financial planner for guidance, but it's important to plan ahead and Lambda Legal can help: Download Take the Power today!

Look for the next exciting issue of eNews in April!

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