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DOMA ruling opens up a bevy of benefits to same-sex couples

Same-sex couples in the states that allow gay marriage gained access to more than 1,000 federal benefits with the June 26 ruling by the Supreme Court that the federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.

“The 1,138 rights and obligations that had been taken away from same-sex couples are all back in play,” said financial adviser J.T. Hatfield Charles, an adviser with Raymond James Financial Services Inc. “That includes benefits from the Family Medical Leave Act, estate taxes at death, federal government employees' spousal pension benefits and access to Social Security.”

Until the high court's ruling, legally married same-sex couples had been subject to state laws recognizing their union and federal law prohibiting it. That confusing setup has, among other things, forced gay couples to claim one marital status on forms sent to state revenue services and yet another on those mailed to the IRS.

Beyond the reduction in paperwork, the DOMA ruling also should shrink the amount many gay couples pay for health insurance coverage.

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