By Liz Welch, LGBT Coordinator

Great news for same sex couples across the country. The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) today ruled that same-sex couples, legally married in jurisdictions that recognize their marriages, will be treated as married for federal tax purposes. The ruling applies regardless of whether the couple lives in a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriages or a jurisdiction that does not recognize same-sex marriages.

What does this mean in Montana?

With the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) being partially struck down in the ACLU case Windsor v United States, it opened up the possibility of federal recognition for many benefits for same sex couples. Today, married same-sex couples will be recognized federally for tax purposes. That includes same-sex couples in Montana who married in other states.

However, in Montana, we still have the marriage amendment that limits state benefits to marriages between one man and one woman.

Same-sex couples will still not be recognized in Montana for state tax purposes nor any other statewide protections granted to married couples. It does not allow same-sex couples to be eligible for pension benefits. It does grant important state-governed rights like family bereavement leave for a partner. And it still doesn’t protect someone like Mary who lost her partner and was not able to make important funeral  arrangements nor have any recourse in the wrongful death suit when her partner was killed in a workplace accident.

That is why our Montana case, Donaldson & Guggenheim v. State of Montana, is so important. Real couples in Montana need real protections right now.