Six states have now legalized same-sex marriage, but the federal Defense of Marriage Act still governs federal law when it comes to gay and lesbian couples.
Given the current political make up of Congress, it would be an understatement to say that federal lawmakers are unlikely to repeal or amend that legislation anytime soon. So across the country, gay rights activists are pursuing legal appeals. Here in California, some have also pushed for change using the tax code.
Santa Clara University Law Professor Patricia Cain was one of the principal forces behind the Franchise Tax Board’s 2007 decision to allow registered domestic couples to file jointly. But it hasn’t been an easy change logistically. Cain and her wife have to deliver one tax profile for the state, and another for the Internal Revenue Service.
"You have to file as married at the state level and single at the federal level," she explains. "So you have to file two single returns at the federal level. Then you have to fill out a mock joint return at the federal level in order to determine what your state liability is."