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What the demise of Prop 8 and DOMA means to you

LOS ANGELES – The Williams Institute at UCLA today breaks down what the demise of California’s Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act means to LGBT Americans.

The marriage rulings will make federal protections available for up to 114,000 legally married same-sex couples nationwide and open marriage to California’s estimated 1.1 million LGBT adults

The Supreme Court’s rulings regarding the federal Defense of Marriage Act in United States v. Windsor and regarding California’s Proposition 8 in Hollingsworth v. Perry have important social, economic and legal consequences for the nation’s approximately 650,000 same-sex couples living in shared households, of which an estimated 114,100 are legally married. It is estimated that, over the next three years, 37,000 California same-sex couples are likely to marry and the state economy will gain approximately $492 million in new business revenue from same-sex couples’ weddings.

As a result of the court’s ruling in Perry, more people will live in states where same-sex couples can marry than ever before. Prior to today’s ruling, 18 percent of the entire U.S. population and 22 percent of same-sex couples lived in the 12 states, and the District of Columbia, where same-sex couples can legally marry. By adding California, 30 percent of the entire U.S. population and 37 percent of same-sex couples will now live in states that extend marriage to same-sex couples.

For couples who have entered into legal marriages that are recognized by the federal government, the Windsor ruling could have important consequences across a range of issues:

• IMMIGRATION: An estimated 24,700 same-sex couples are bi-national (one US citizen and one non-citizen) along with 11,700 same-sex couples comprised of two non-citizens. The Windsor DOMA ruling has opened the door for a citizen to obtain permanent residence for a non-citizen, same-sex spouse, and expedited citizenship for a resident, same-sex spouse.

• SOCIAL SECURITY: Surviving spouses of same-sex couples could gain access to spousal social security benefits, which could add up to more than $5,700 to the monthly income of the surviving spouse.

• HEALTH CARE: Same-sex couples working in the private sector pay, on average, $1,000 more than different-sex couples in taxes for employer-sponsored healthcare. Same-sex spouses in federally recognized marriages might no longer be subject to this additional tax burden.

• FEDERAL EMPLOYEES: Same-sex spouses of federal employees could be eligible for employee benefits that are currently provided to employees with different-sex spouses.

• ESTATE TAX: In situations similar to that of plaintiff Edith Windsor in the DOMA case, same-sex spouses who are affected by the estate tax would no longer be subject to a greater federal estate tax burden upon the death of a spouse than similarly-situated different-sex married couples face.