Thursday, September 5, 2013
The IRS has spoken. . .
All legally married same-sex couples will be recognized for federal tax purposes no matter what state they live in, the Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department announced Thursday in a change that will affect numerous couples in states that have not permitted gay marriage.
The change in policy follows the Supreme Court’s decision in June overturning a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act that barred the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages for purposes such as insurance benefits, immigration and tax filings.
The new approach “provides access to benefits, responsibilities and protections under federal tax law that all Americans deserve,” Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew said in a statement. “This ruling also assures legally married same-sex couples that they can move freely throughout the country knowing that their federal filing status will not change.”
A couple of decades ago when the Missouri Synod was looking at nomenclature for ordained Pastors and commissioned teachers, DCEs, etc., it was the legalese of the IRS and their requirements that led us to define clergy as Ministers of Religion, with the sub-category of either ordained or commissioned. Theology does not carry much weight before the IRS but to make sure that the precious housing exemption was retained, theological language gave way to the legalese and bureaucratic language of IRS rules. So it has been for more than a couple of decades and so it is now enshrined in the Agenda of the Lutheran Service Book.
Now an understanding of much greater proportion has been handed down from on high. It does not matter what states think or say (or religions for that matter) the government will honor the marriage of gays and lesbians anywhere and give them full rights of marital filing status. In other words, the IRS has again decided what will be. Once the IRS decides, it does not take long before it becomes the norm. What no President can do with a single stroke of a pen and what even Congress would have trouble doing and what the Supreme Court may fear doing (what with the smooth sailing after Roe v. Wade), the IRS has done.