No federal benefits for domestic partners under DOMA ruling

Supporters of marriage equality pushing state legislatures to hold special session

Published  10:20 PM HST Jul 10, 2013
HONOLULU -

In the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, the Obama administration recently said it will not extend federal-worker benefits to domestic partners.

The decision is causing supporters of same-sex marriage in Hawaii to push state legislatures to hold a special session for marriage equality.

Tambry and Suzanne Young have been together for more than 30 years, many of which have been spent fighting for their relationship, as well as their daughter Shylar.

"So right now, I have Shylar and Tambry on my medical with my company," Suzanne Young said. "Shylar's is pre-taxed. Tambry's is not."

Health tax benefits are just some of the federal perks the Youngs are looking to receive if their marriage is recognized in Hawaii. They were married in Massachusetts and many federal benefits don't cross states.

"So we're now waiting for either a decision to come down from the federal government saying it's OK  as long as you have a legal marriage or if Hawaii passes marriage equality," said Young.

Tambry Young said, "There's absolutely no time to wait. We don't know what would happen to one of us in the near future, tomorrow, in the next minute when we leave the location."

Suzanne Young added, "If we leave here, and one of us gets killed, the other doesn't get their social security benefits."

A special session would come at a cost, but the Youngs say the sooner same-sex marriage is passed in Hawaii, the better.

"The benefits for the marriage industry or for couples coming here to have a marriage here would meet the cost of a special session," said Tambry Young. "Or maybe overwhelmingly pass the cost of a special session."

Advocates for traditional marriage say Hawaii's same-sex marriage debate should be left up to the people and put up for a vote.

House Majority Leader Scott Saiki says he's currently polling House members to see they would even have enough votes for a special session.

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