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MISSION: To combine business development, leadership and social action to expand economic opportunities for the LGBT Community and those who support equality for all.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

GSBA Signs Amicus Brief Challenging Section 3 of DOMA

[Press release available on GSBA website]

The Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA), the first LGBT chamber to be asked to join the United States Supreme Court business amicus brief in the United States v. Windsor case, is signing on as an amici together with other businesses, municipalities, chambers and business organizations. The amicus brief explains the discriminatory and adverse effects that DOMA has on LGBT married families and on businesses and advocates the unconstitutionality of Section 3 of DOMA. GSBA has been working on marriage equality and building the business case for equality for many years through signing onto court briefs, legislative advocacy and referenda advocacy.  In addition, GSBA is a recognized leader in educating legislators at all levels of government about and advocating for equal rights with tax and immigration laws.

The architects of the amicus brief have also requested that GSBA reach out to its members and other LGBT chambers in qualifying states (California, Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, the District of Columbia, the Coquille Tribe (Oregon) and the Suquamish Tribe (Washington)) to also sign onto the brief as amici.  GSBA is pleased to announce that it has already secured the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) as an amici and to work with its qualifying affiliate chambers to join the amicus brief.  West Coast LGBT chambers that are members of the Western Business Alliance are also working to gain approval from their boards to sign on as amici.

In December, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear appeals in the United States v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry (Prop. 8) cases.  The Windsor case is a challenge to Section 3 of the federal DOMA statute.  Under Section 3 of DOMA, LGBT same-sex spouses are precluded from accessing the federal rights and responsibilities afforded to different-sex spouses including various tax exemptions.  As a result of this unfair and discriminatory treatment, employers and employees are adversely impacted with greater income and payroll tax liabilities, higher administrative costs and the inability to provide equal spousal benefits for certain federally regulated health care and pension programs.

For those not familiar with the Windsor case, Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer, New York residents, were together for 42 years, and legally married in Canada in 2007.  Thea Spyer passed away in 2009, leaving her estate to her spouse Edie.  Thea’s estate was assessed $363,000 in federal estate taxes, because the federal government under DOMA does not recognize their marriage or extend the estate tax exemptions afforded to different-sex spouses.  Had the federal government recognized the legal marriages of same-sex couples at the time of Thea’s death, Edie would have been entitled to the spousal exemption and not have had to pay any of the $363,000 in federal estate taxes.

Businesses that are located or operate in states that either have or recognize marriages of same-sex couples (California, Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, the District of Columbia, the Coquille Tribe (Oregon) and the Suquamish Tribe (Washington)) can also become amici.  This is our opportunity as business leaders to stand up and let the U.S. Supreme Court know that business supports equality and that the government’s unequal treatment of LGBT families adversely impact employers.

If your business would like to sign onto the Windsor business amicus brief or have any questions, please complete this business information and statement questionnaire. In order to include your company as an amici of the court you must fill out the business description (including at minimum the name of the company, industry/profession, length of time the company has been in business, and a description of the product(s) or services rendered) on the form in addition to certifying that you have authorization on behalf of the company to sign on.


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