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Equal Treatment under the Law: A Cost-Benefit Analysis of Same Sex Benefits Post-Windsor

JHHSA, Vol. 37 No. 2, (2014)

In June 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a landmark decision in United States v. Windsor (570 U.S. ___ 2013). The ruling advanced gay rights by striking down Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and instating federal benefits to same-sex married couples. The ruling has widespread economic benefits for legally married same-sex couples including health insurance, flex- spending accounts, Social Security benefits, federal taxes, and veterans’ benefits. Framed within a global context, this article analyzes the economic implications of United States v. Windsor and the subsequent implementation of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Rule 17 (Rev. Rul. 2013-17) by conducting a cost-benefit analysis of a state with marriage equality compared to a state prohibiting same-sex marriage. Findings indicate, despite the Supreme Court ruling, there is an unequal distribution of costs and benefits across states based on same-sex marriage. If all Americans are to receive equal treatment under the law, then all 50 states and Washington D.C. must comport with federal law and legalize same-sex marriage.

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