Last November, I announced that while I supported gay marriage, I did not approve of the ways it was being carried out in Massachusetts, New York, and California. The rogue officials who authorized those marriages in New York and California have been chastised and the weddings annulled, but it’s still going strong in Massachusetts.
One of the reasons I opposed the Massachusetts way was that it didn’t fully take into account the legal ramifications of such a fundamental change. My thoughts at the time were on the “full faith and credit” clause of the Constitution, which could be used to force other states to recognize marriages they have already voted to deny.
One way that didn’t occur to me at the time, though, was taxes.
Jan and Diane are two women who tied the knot last year. Now, they’re doing their taxes, and they’re finding them burdensome. First, they had to file individual federal returns, because the federal government doesn’t recognize them as a couple. Then they had to file a joint return to Massachusetts, which does recognize them as a couple. But they also had to prepare a fourth return — a “phantom” federal return that they filled out as a couple. They can’t file it federally, but they needed it to calculate their state return.
The Boston Globe story is overflowing with sympathy and compassion for these women, and all the other couples caught in this bind. I, however, feel a mild vindictive thrill. This is exactly what you get when you decide to bypass the accepted procedures and policies for making fundamental changes in law and culture, and just bull through what you want.
Jan, Diane, suck it up. You knew — or should have known — that this would happen when you decided to take advantage of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s circumventing of the accepted processes and made their own laws. You made your own marital bed; don’t complain if it’s a bit lumpier than you would wish.