[Joe] Edson said that, as a couple, [he and registered domestic partner Mike Hardie] have "jumped through all the legal hoops backwards" to get many of the same rights and protections that come to opposite-sex couples. That includes legal powers of attorney for health issues and revocable trusts. Edson said he had to be treated for colon cancer in 2004 and that helped propel the decision to get family rights.
"Any drunk heterosexual couple can wander into an Elvis chapel in Las Vegas and get all of these rights automatically," Edson said. "We have the education and the financial wherewithal to get those kinds of rights documented. A lot of our friends do not."
I've yet to see truer words printed on the front page of The Reno Gazette-Journal. It actually had an interesting story today on the long and tortuous journey to equality that Nevada's LGBTQ families are still making. And yes, we still have more to do.
But again, we must stress that DPs under SB 283 are not marriage and will not be treated by the federal government as such. Even if you and your partner file for a DP this fall, you will still not be able to file a joint federal tax return. You won't be able to receive any spousal benefits from the military or the VA. You won't be able to sponsor your partner for US citizenship or permanent residency if he/she is a foreign national. Unfortunately, DOMA still applies here as it does across the nation. This is why it's crucial that not only Nevada law change to give our families full equality, but that federal law change as well.
And that's our dilemma. Now DP couples get all the federal burdens of marriage without any of the federal benefits.
Hardie and Edson registered as a domestic couple in Nevada. But that led to an unexpected legal entanglement. The Internal Revenue Service ruled that in community property states like Nevada, California and Washington, people who are registered as domestic partners have to file under community property laws, so they got those tax liabilities. But the federal Defense of Marriage Act prohibits them from filing joint returns, so they do not get any of the benefits of filing as a married couple.
There are at least 1,138 federal marriage benefits that Nevada domestic partners can not access. And until Nevada allows for full civil marriage equality and federal law recognizes all civil marriages as equal, we won't have full legal equality in our relationships. Hopefully as more Nevadans see more of their fellow LGBTQ Nevadans being a vital part in their communities, we'll see change happen in our lifetime.