Tax talk, May Day protest, poor LGBT health data
GEORGIA EQUALITY DELIVERS PETITION DEMANDING SAME-SEX MARRIAGE TAX EQUALITY
Georgia Equality’s Why Marriage Matters Georgia Campaign delivered more than 1,000 signatures on Tax Day, April 15, to the Georgia Department of Revenue demanding samesex legally married couples be treated equally when it comes to filing taxes.
“We just wanted to send you a quick email to say thank you! 1,341 of you signed the Tax Day petition to the Georgia Department of Revenue in opposition to their discriminatory policies requiring legally married same-sex couples in Georgia to lie on their tax returns,” Georgia Equality says in a statement.
“As part of our Why Marriage Matters Georgia Campaign, our initial goal was to present 1,000 signatures and because of you we exceeded that goal. In the coming weeks and months Georgia Equality will continue this grassroots public education campaign to build support for and ultimately win the freedom to marry in Georgia.”
In October, the Georgia Department of Revenue issued guidelines for same-sex couples filing state tax returns in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling striking down a major portion of the Defense of Marriage Act.
The state Department of Revenue’s guidelines stated:
• Georgia income tax law does not directly provide that the same filing status be used for Georgia purposes as is used for federal purposes, but it does provide that Federal Adjusted Gross Income be used as the starting point in computing Georgia taxable income.
• The Department has traditionally required taxpayers to use the same filing status for both Georgia and federal income tax purposes since Federal Adjusted Gross Income is computed based on a person’s federal filing status. However, the Georgia constitution, which limits marriage to relationships between a man and a woman, supersedes Georgia income tax law.
• Therefore, persons in a same-sex marriage who can now file a federal return using married filing jointly or married filing separately status must continue to file Georgia returns using the single filing status or, if qualified, head of household filing status.
And that’s where the lie comes in—forcing married couples to file as single people on their Georgia returns.
GA. LESBIAN COUPLE CALLS FOR ‘MAY DAY’ MARRIAGE PROTEST
Jazzie and Sonny Jones-Smith of Stockbridge, Ga., are urging the approximate 21,000 same-sex couples in Georgia to go to their county clerk’s office on May 1 and demand a marriage license. All couples will be declined because same-sex marriage is illegal in this state—and that’s the point they want to make.
Inspired by the recent Southerners for the Freedom to Marry press conference with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Freedom to Marry’s founder Evan Wolfson, the couple is asking all same-sex couples across the state to take part in the May Day ceremony.
Sonny and Jazzie Jones-Smith are board members of In the Life Atlanta, the nonprofit organization that coordinates Black Gay Pride each year. They are also online radio personalities for LouddmouthRadio.com.
“Historically #MayDay” has been used as a distress signal in voice procedures in radio communication, which was only a befitting title for these same gender loving radio personalities,” states a press release from the couple.
The couple recently legally married in Washington, D.C.
“Sonny and Jazzie invites same sex and LGBTQ couples, organizations, media, friends and family that are allies in support of marriage equality in Georgia to take part in the May 1 initiative to invoke change by stepping up and let their voices be heard,” they state in the press release.
GAY, BI HEALTH RISKS NOT WELL-DOCUMENTED DUE TO POOR STATE DATA
A recent report by the Boston-based Fenway Institute has found important health-related risks within the LGB community that are not well-documented, well-known or addressed by prevention and treatment programs.
Only 27 states have, on their own initiative, begun asking questions about sexual orientation and/or same-sex sexual behavior, according to the Fenway report. Georgia is among them.
Many studies have shown that gay men have a higher risk of HIV infection and that LGBT youth are at higher risk of being bullied and considering suicide. But the new policy brief from Fenway found that the LGB community has a higher rate of tobacco use than the general public, that lesbians have an increased risk of being overweight and that LGB elders have an increased risk of disability.
The Fenway report is based on data collected by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through an annual Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS) in all 50 states, reaching 506,000 people. CDC provides the core questionnaire for each state to administer, asking questions about such health-related matters as diet, physical activity, smoking, immunization and sleep.
CDC does not include a question about a survey participant’s sexual orientation on the core questionnaire or on a list of additional optional questions states can add if they choose.
Because sexual orientation information is not collected in all 50 states, says the Fenway report, “it is impossible to compare their health behaviors to those of other groups.”
“Without this information, states may miss the opportunity to develop programs, policies and services to address local health disparities,” states the report.
The Fenway report urges all states “to include, at a minimum, a sexual identity measure, and, whenever possible, to also include a sexual behavior measure.” Due to the “nuanc- es and complexity of measuring gender identity, and the unique and understudied health disparities transgender people face,” said the Fenway report, “a comprehensive assessment of these issues” requires another report.
Some of the specific findings of Fenway’s analysis of the data collected by the 27 states that do ask questions about sexual identity and/or same-sex sexual behavior include:
• Lesbians and bisexual women are less likely than heterosexual women to obtain mammograms and Pap tests
• Gay men have higher rates of alcohol and drug use
• LGB people have higher rates of tobacco use and are more likely to lack health insurance
• LGB older adults have increased risk of disability, excessive drinking, and smoking
• 18 percent of doctors in California are “sometimes” or “often” uncomfortable treating gay patients
• 9.4 percent of men who identified themselves as “straight” in New York City had sex with another man during the past year.
• 76 percent of self-identified lesbian sexually active adolescents reported having had sex with a male
Of the 27 states which have asked people about their sexual orientation, some have asked the question in only one year; some every year. The 27 states include: Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.
The report urges all 50 states to begin asking about sexual orientation.
“Collecting sexual orientation data at the state level,” says the report, “can propel the federal initiative forward and enhance states’ ability to document and work toward eliminating health disparities...”
Jazzie and Sonny Jones-Smith are urging Georgia same-sex couples to ask for marriage licenses on May 1 as part of a statewide protest.