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Married gay couples can file jointly, tax commission decides

Published: Thursday, Jan. 16 2014 3:10 p.m. MST

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Big Bubba
Herriman, UT

Go get 'em Mr. Gene C. Schaerr! We are cheering you on and hoping your restore States' rights on the definition of marriage.

Salt Lake City, UT

Great news that same sex couples can file their state tax returns jointly. One more step on the road to equality.

Salt Lake City, UT

Good job AG Reyes for finding well qualified attorneys to work on this case. It sounds like these attorneys are being reasonable with their fees which will help save the state money in this endeavor. Lets hope this process moves forward in a dignified and professional manner going forward.

Bob Pomeroy
Bisbee, AZ

Great appellate team notwithstanding disagreements with them,

Springville, UT

Gene Schaerr is good, I'll say that.

As for understanding Utah's unique nature, I cannot see that it will be relevant. The law is the law, the Constitution is the Constitution. A very good attorney here will help in the quality of the argument, not who or what he is. That Utah is somehow different and should be treated differently than other states is naive. It seems to support the notion that Utah is really not part of America. (In a sense, maybe Utah never was....)

Logan, UT

@Big Budda,
"Go get 'em Mr. Gene C. Schaerr! We are cheering you on and hoping your restore States' rights on the definition of marriage."

You'd better hope he can come up with a more persuasive, more compelling argument other than "responsible procreation".

Frankly, I haven't seen any good argument from SSM opponent camp yet.

Sandy, UT

Very interesting how they always spread the wealth around a bit. With all the lawyers in the AG's office, whenever they encounter anything perceived to be particularly sticky and/or relevant, they always defer to "outside counsel." Oh well, it's only tax money, right? Of course there's always more where that came from. I sure wish we could have a vote on this rabid expenditure, because I sure wouldn't be willing to cough up ANY of my money to force people to live by my ideals and standards when it actually has little bearing on the rest of us. If people want to "marry" someone of their own gender (which has legal and financial implications for THEM), or if they want to inhale/ingest something I would never want in my system--I say let them have at it. We obviously have more than our hands full trying to get government to properly do all the things it SHOULD be doing, and not all the things it shouldn't--and then attempting to actually pay for it all. Fools' errand indeed.


Somehow, the rights of states to pass laws that are advocated by the citizens of that state comes into play. States should not be pawns of the Federal Government and that would include any Branch. If the majority of voting citizens in the state of Utah, Oklahoma, Mississippi or wherever pass a law that they believe benefits them and that State, should not the Federal Government respect that? The Constitution has been and will be subject to the thinking of current Justices and the pressures applied by groups with their own agendas. Just another thought about a thorny problem

Provo, UT

Although I believe same-sex marriage is wrong, the writing is obviously on the wall. Same sex marriage, like abortion, will likely become a Constitutional "right" in the next couple of years. Ironically, Utah's attempt to protect traditional marriage may likely turn out to be the Supreme Court case that makes same sex marriage a "right." Justice Kennedy will likely join the four liberals on the Supreme Court and declare homosexuals have a "right" to be married.

Blue AZ Cougar
Chandler, AZ

While I'm hopeful that this legal team can articulate the position of the Utah majority, I'm also hesitant because it's obvious that as a country, we've abandoned our morals. As John Adams said, our constitution was made for a moral and religious people, and is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. So while I hope to see the courts side with Utah's rights as a state, it wouldn't surprise me to see it go the other way.

West Valley City, UT

It is interesting that the tax allowance for 2013 was made. My own brother participates in a long term (20 years plus) same sex marriage. That love, tolerance, endurance and compromise need to be a part of his life is no question. However, tax expenditures by the government are the only question I see. Tax should be different for them. I do not know if it is less or more but I believe we as a society have built our tax laws around a man and a woman (married) filing a joint return. Does anyone know if this issue has been brought up in the current case with judge Shelby? Is it an issue? Should it be? For example: Is the fact that a woman often has more medical expenditures than a man not a compelling argument to have a same sex couple who file jointly to figure their taxes differently? Two females should figure more tax and two males should figure less?

American Fork, UT

It's another good step, inasmuch as filing tax returns is good in any sense. As time and process move on, the arguments against same sex marriage really aren't holding up and the whole appeal process looks more petty and vindictive.

Marco Luxe
Los Angeles, CA

Hasn't the AG's office handled appeals to the 10th Cir. in-house before? It's hard to believe that the AG's office is less than competent in this task especially since all the arguments have been made before in other courts. Since the State's petitions for a stay of the district court decision never alleged any error of law by J. Shelby, [a mandatory pleading on appeal], maybe Reyes just wants to put political distance between his office and the dog of a case this appears to be. I guess it will be easier to blame outside counsel for the loss. If only we all had the option to outsource the tough parts of our jobs with other people's money.

If this really is the AG's strategy, isn't dropping a sure loser of an appeal now the morally right and legally correct thing to do?

PS - this has nothing to do with the church. D&C 134:9
We declare that from principle and policy, we favor:
The absolute separation of church and state;
No domination of the state by the church;
No church interference with the functions of the state"

A Quaker
Brooklyn, NY

Seems like a fairly decent team. Let's see if they can come up with something more convincing than "will of the people," "tradition!," and "every child deserves..."

At least on the latter point, Utah has a bit of traction. When it comes to out-of-wedlock births, Utah beats the astronomical national average by a wide margin, a mere 19% to 41%. But, with a high children-per-family number and a larger amount of divorces, which results in more children living in single-parent families, that could seriously cut into the advantage. Still, I'm not sure statistics form a basis for denial of individual rights.

Well, 11 days, and we'll get to see the State's brief. Should make for interesting reading. I've read a number of Court decisions lately (glutton for punishment) and none of the filed arguments have survived scrutiny thus far. Be interesting to see if this team can cobble together anything that might fly.

Somewhere in Time, UT

All states bring in outside counsel for cases like this. It is the norm. Specialists with expertise are brought in to handle these kinds of cases. I'm glad the state has brought in someone who is experienced, successful and also understands our culture and motivations. It is obviously a good choice.

And to those who are discouraged. Don't give up hope. The other side is trying to do everything it can to attack, shame and demoralize those of us who are standing for right. We will not falter no matter what the outcome.

Blue AZ Cougar
Chandler, AZ

I see what you're saying, but it's an ancillary argument to the real "meat" of the issue. The real heart of the matter is that religious folks morally oppose same-sex marriage.

@Marco Luxe
You've misquoted D&C 134:9 and taken it out of context. All the same, the LDS church is not the organization hiring lawyers to argue its position in court, so yes, there is separation of church and state. The Utah AG hired the lawyers, not the churches. Additionally, to argue that an individual should separate his religious convicts from his civic life is to imply we should believe one way on Sundays, and another way the rest of the week. You can have separation of church and state, but you cannot achieve separation of religious beliefs from within an individual. That would be a contradiction of character.

Leesburg, VA

@ Blue AZ Cougar
You wrote: " As John Adams said, our constitution was made for a moral and religious people, and is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

Exactly!!!! When are people going to understand that it is immoral to discriminate against those who follow the laws of a country, contribute to society and yet are discriminated against just because of their sexual orientation. Shouldn't be that what happened in the bedroom is private?

You also wrote:
"Additionally, to argue that an individual should separate his religious convicts from his civic life is to imply we should believe one way on Sundays, and another way the rest of the week."

Well, not exactly!! Catholics believe that eating meat on Friday is a sin. Should they pass a law forbidding selling/eating meat on Fridays? They could! But other religions would complain that no church should impose their beliefs on others and that it should be a separation between church and state. Even if that church is the majority in the state or country.

If you are not able to differentiate between your religious beliefs and fair civic ruling, you may have a deeper problem.

Morgan, UT

Why should gay couples get a tax break???

Let's ask it a different way. Why did traditional couples get a tax break?

Blue AZ Cougar
Chandler, AZ

If it's tax breaks you're after, then why not petition the government to change the tax law? Why change the institution of marriage? Said another way, if civil unions and marriages had equal footing in terms of tax breaks (or whatever other benefits you feel you are not receiving), why is it so important to you that we call it "marriage" as opposed to "civil union"? While most in the LGBT community won't admit it, there's a strong push not only to legalize same-sex marriage but to create an atmosphere where we are obligated to accept the stance as both socially AND morally acceptable. You want society's approval.

"Shouldn't be that what happened in the bedroom is private?" Yes. As a matter of fact, I have no interest in what goes on in your bedroom. But that's different than what goes on in full view of the rest of society, isn't it? Nobody here is pushing for a law to ban homosexual behavior. Equating sames-sex marriage with traditional marriage is morally reprehensible. If you are not able to differentiate between the two, you may have a deeper problem.

Never Summer
Cottonwood Heights, UT

I for one am so glad my hard earned tax dollars are being spent to line the pockets of attorneys from out of state (and conveniently one who went to BYU) in a losing battle. everyone grab a share while your ship is sinking. just let it go Utah. let it go. Marijuana legalization next? Alta allowing snowboarders? oh no, the sky is falling!

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