Tax talk, May Day protest, poor LGBT health data

GA Voice - - Contents - — Lisa Keen


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.


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 Loud­dmouthRa­

“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.


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...”

(Photo by Diva Blue Pho­tog­ra­phy)

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.

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