Ga. makes gay marriage so wonderfully boring

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The road to gay marriage in Georgia has been silky smooth since the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, a surprising twist given the state's pitched fight to keep its gay marriage bans in place. 

Before the court made gay marriage legal in June, probate judges prepared by changing marriage licenses. Gov. Nathan Deal and Attorney General Sam Olens, who both fought gay marriage, said they would follow the ruling and made it clear that the rest of the state shouldn't defy the court, either.

Their motto? We're not Alabama.

So in the wake of the ruling, the state let its more than 90,000 employees know that same-sex spouses were eligible for all employment benefits – all the ones they were denied just the day before the Supreme Court ruling on June 26. The state bureaucracy was moving uncharacteristically fast, a positive development since gay couples started marrying hours after the court decision.

The University System of Georgia quickly fell in line, quite a change as the lead agency for the state's public universities and colleges resisted even offering domestic partner benefits in the past. 

And the latest example of Georgia's quick and thorough acceptance came recently from the state Department of Revenue. The agency quietly issued a four-paragraph memo that belies its historic importance: Allowing gay married couples to file joint tax returns just like straight couples and to amend returns from prior years. 

The agency's Guidance for Same-Sex Couples Filing in Georgia:

(Updated to reflect the June 26, 2015 U.S. Supreme Court Ruling)

In light of the June 26, 2015 U.S. Supreme Court Ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, the Department will recognize same-sex marriages in the same way it recognizes marriages between opposite-sex couples.  The Department will recognize a marriage where the license was issued in Georgia and a marriage lawfully licensed and performed out of state. 

As such any affected returns filed after the date of this notice should be filed under the rules that applied for the tax years in question to lawfully married opposite-sex couples. 

If, on or before the date of this notice, a lawfully married same-sex couple filed Georgia income tax returns as though they were not married, or had their Georgia income tax returns adjusted by the Revenue Department based on treating them as not married, those persons may file amended Georgia income tax returns under the rules that applied for the tax years in question to lawfully married opposite-sex couples.  Whether a refund claimed on such an amended return can be paid will depend on the statute of limitations, which requires that such a claim be filed within three years of the later of the date of payment of the tax to the Revenue Department or the due date (including any extensions granted) for filing the original return for that period.

For additional information please call 877-423-6711.

The memo is testament to the power of the state bureaucracy to make such a momentous LGBT victory seem so routine and boring. Exactly as it should.

Photo by Russ Youngblood

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