The title is, of course, ironic, but after reading about Chris Cristie’s rejection of Medicaid Expansion under Obamacare for New Jersey, and considering that in light of his position opposing marriage equality in New Jersey, I began to think about the linkage between these two seemingly distinct issues.
While watching the NewsHour’s excellent coverageof the SCOTUS decision in US v. Windsor to throw out Section 3 of DOMA, I found this quote from Kathleen Sibelius :
Today’s Supreme Court decision finding the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional is a victory for equality, which is a core belief of this administration. It is also a victory for families, especially those children whose parents’ legal same sex marriages can now be recognized under federal law.
As a result of today’s ruling, the federal government is no longer forced to discriminate against legally married same sex couples. The Supreme Court’s decision on DOMA reaffirms the core belief that we are all created equal and must be treated as equal. The Department of Health and Human Services will work with the Department of Justice to review all relevant federal statutes and ensure this decision is implemented swiftly and smoothly.
There is, at present, a patchwork of regulations regarding how Federal agencies determine if one is married. Basically, they fall into two categories: some are based on where the marriage is contracted and some are based on where you, the beneficiary, are domiciled. This means that one can be considered married for one purpose, but not for another. For example, the IRS defines one as being married if you are considered as such in your state of residence. However, immigration law recognizes a marriage as being valid if it was such in the state or jurisdiction in which it was contracted.
As a practical matter, until now, this distinction has largely been meaningless. Because DOMA section 3 overrode any state’s recognition of a marriage if it was not between a man and woman, it really didn’t matter for the purposes of Federal benefits. With the Windsor ruling having struck down Section 3, however, that distinction has now come to the fore. As Sibelius’ statement indicates, they are looking to harmonize how the components of Federal govenment judge the validity of marriages. Speaking in Senegal about the Windsor ruling, the President said:
“My personal belief is that if you’ve been married in Massachusetts and you move somewhere else, you’re still married and that, under federal law, you should be able to obtain benefits like any lawfully married couple,” he said, but added that he was voicing that view “as a president, not a lawyer.”
While some might attempt to make much of his “as a president, not a lawyer” comment, I would simply suggest that he was expressing the natural reticence of any attorney when commenting on hundreds, if not thousands, of statutes and regulations which he has not personally reviewed.
Take a look below. Here is a list of those states which currently recognize same-sex marriages:
And here is a list of those states which have opted-out to Medicaid expansion:
and those leaning towards opting out:
New Jersey (given Cristie’s veto since this map was made)
Notice anything? Of course, only one state that recognizes same-sex marriages has rejected Medicaid expansion (Maine). Some who have opted-in do not recognize such marriages, but all of those states which have rejected Medicaid expansion (with that one exception) also ban the recognition of gay marriages. That means each one of them has decided to “subject” their citizens the Federal exchange. As a result, should the Obama Administration proceed with to issue a regulation based on recognizing place of contracting a marriage (as appears likely),then, the gay citizens of states opting out who have have contracted a marriage with a same-sex partner in a state which does recognize such unions would be able to avail themselves of the family-based plans, regardless of the fact that their state does not recognize their marriage. In fact, it is BECAUSE of their state’s intransigence vis a vis Obamacare that they would be able to avail themselves of such rights.
The irony is delicious.
Right wing heads explode in 5,4, 3, 2…