State Rep John Becker has been proudly and valiantly working to protect the rights of Ohio’s straight, white, not-poor men since taking office in January 2013. And we got news this week that he’s urgently looking for support on another bill that would help fix a horrible injustice being perpetrated against straight married couples in Ohio: what Becker calls the “the Heterosexual (only) Marriage Penalty”.
In an email dated December 10, 2013, Becker asked fellow legislators to co-sponsor a bill that could only come from the desk of a true patriot like John. According to the letter, the recent US Supreme Court decision on the Defense of Marriage Act, and a decision by the Ohio Department of Taxation, may result in a “tax advantage for homosexuals that heterosexuals can’t take advantage of.”
Oh the injustice!
Becker’s claim stems from the fact that Ohio law requires married couples to file their state tax returns the same way they file their federal returns, either jointly or individually. But now that the feds are allowing same sex couples to file jointly (because of the DOMA decision), Ohio faced a dilemma: Do they allow same-sex couples to file jointly, effectively recognizing the validity of the marriage? Or do they continue to not recognize the marriage, and allow the couple to file individual state returns, even though they have filed a joint federal return?
The Kasich Administration opted to continue its long-standing tradition of treating LGBT individuals like second class citizens, forcing same-sex couples to file individual state returns even if they filed joint federal returns.
And still Becker wasn’t satisfied. Instead he attacked this decision on his personal website, claiming “married homosexuals (and lesbians) are given a special privilege” and accusing the Ohio Department of Taxation of “illegally encouraging homosexual marriage over traditional marriage.”
Becker may be a homophobic asshole who is confused about what “lesbians” are , but he’s clearly not dumb. He sees the legal dilemma here. And it scares the crap out of him.
As Becker points out in his letter, having different tax rules for different couples may be a “violation of the Equal Protection Clause” of the US Constitution. But instead of questioning the root cause of the problem (namely that Ohio bans same-sex marriage), Becker seems to be looking for a way to prevent anyone from filing a lawsuit that could call the marriage ban into question on its constitutionality.
Overturning Ohio’s same-sex marriage ban seems to be Becker’s biggest fear, and it appears to be the impetus behind this latest bill. He hints at this in his email as he worries out loud about letting “the Courts” fix the issue.
“Let’s not go there,” Becker concludes.
Good advice from a guy dedicated to protecting the status quo at all costs.
From his bill to limit voting days favored by African American churchgoers, to his bill to kick pregnant women and low-income families off Medicaid, to his bill to force Ohio’s poor to be treated by students and interns or his resolution to impeach a federal judge who “ordered that Ohio recognize the homosexual marriage” of a dying man, Becker is always on the lookout for those who might be infringing on the ever-challenged liberties of us straight male white folk.
Here’s the letter he’s sending around right now…
Ohio law (ORC 5747.08 E) requires spouses to file income tax returns joint on both federal and state, or separate on both federal and state.
Earlier this year, the US Supreme Court repealed DOMA. Subsequently, the federal administration is allowing homosexual married couples to file joint federal returns regardless of what state they reside. Consequently, the Ohio Department of Taxation is allowing homosexual couples to file joint federal returns and separate state returns. This is in clear violation of ORC 5747.08 (E) and provides a significant tax advantage for homosexuals that heterosexuals can’t take advantage of. Therefore, the restrictions in ORC 5747.08 (E) is being applied to married heterosexuals and not to married homosexuals.
The problem with filing a joint state income tax return is the marriage penalty created by our nine progressive tax brackets. Therefore, the Ohio Department of Taxation has created the Heterosexual (only) Marriage Penalty because homosexuals enjoy the privilege of avoiding it. This strikes me as a clear violation of the Equal Protection Clause.
If we don’t fix this problem legislatively, the Courts will fix it in a way that nobody can predict. Let’s not go there.
To clean up this mess, I am sponsoring legislation to edit ORC 5747 (E) and allow ALL married couples, regardless of sexual orientation, to file joint federal income tax returns and separate state income tax returns. This will also eliminate the Ohio Marriage Penalty.