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Refuse to Lie! New Campaign Tells the Truth to the IRS

31 Mar

An exciting new campaign which could have real consequence and promote real change, has been launched.

As dreaded tax day is fast approaching, we LGBT people have frequently sought ways to protest via the IRS. Some people have simply refused to pay taxes as we do not have equal protection under the laws. The Refuse to Lie campaign is shedding light on another way we can protest our unequal status with the Federal Government.

From the Refuse to Lie website:

Each year the federal government demands that thousands of married couples lie.

The federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) not only denies legally married gay couples the benefits of heterosexual marriage, but we are also told to disavow our spouses and file our taxes as “single.”

The Federal Government must stop requiring legally married gay couples to deny the existence of our families and hide our marriages.

It is dehumanizing and it is wrong.

Across the country, legally married gay couples are taking a stand. We are refusing to lie about the fact that we are married.

The federal government’s refusal to recognize our marriages is blatant discrimination and we will not play along by lying on our tax returns and pretending we are single. The government has chosen to discriminate and we choose to expose their bigotry by refusing to lie.

Taking this principled stand is not without risk and each person doing so needs to carefully consider those risks before deciding if it is a stand you are willing to take.

While tax time forces legally married gay couples to decide whether to comply or resist the government’s requirement that we lie, it is not the only circumstance where we face this dilemma. We are married and our commitment is to tell the truth every time we are asked to fill out a form or respond to a question about our marital status.

This website is intended to be a resource to all who decide to refuse to lie. And it is a place for everyone who believes in marriage equality to show your support and stand with us by adding your name to this effort.

Not everyone will commit to filing as married but everyone can take a stand in solidarity.

Please sign the petiton and help send the message to the federal government that gay married couples should not be compelled to lie. Share this link of Facebook and help spread the word.

Of course this is not for everyone and you are certainly risking something, but the protest and the reasons behind it are completely legitimate. The very idea that we have to lie on our tax returns if we are legally married, is ludicrous. The site gives detailed information on how to go about taking part in the action, with options on how to do so safely and within the rules of filing.

How can you affirm your marital status, object to DOMA, file a joint return, and not be subject to penalties? Here are two possibilities:

  1. File two single returns (including the attachment affirming the marriage) and then file an amended return, filing jointly. The amended return is a 1040X. This is what the plaintiffs in the GLAD case did. Once the IRS rejects the amended return, or if six months passes and they do nothing, the taxpayers who file an amended return have the right to file suit in federal district court claiming the refund.The basis of the claim for refund by a Florida same-sex couple would be that they were married, that under the U.S. Constitution that marriage should be recognized, that it would be perjury to claim otherwise, and that DOMA itself is unconstitutional. This option would avoid penalties because your original return would be filed according to the statute.
  2. Submit two returns to the IRS, one filed jointly, showing the tax due on a joint return, and one filed as a single taxpayer, showing the tax due on a single return. Explain your constitutional and moral theory entitling you to file a joint return. Pay whatever amount is due on the single return and ask the IRS to choose which return to accept.If you have paid the amount due on the basis of a single return, then you have not made an underpayment as a result of disregarding a statute. Penalties are only due if there is an underpayment. If the IRS accepts your single return and accepts your tax payment on that basis, there is no penalty. Of course if the IRS accepts your joint return and that results in a refund to you, there is no way to know what will happen if you are later audited. That would be a new case.

    In many cases, of course, you will actually pay a higher tax if you file jointly. In that case, you should not owe a penalty.

Please check out the site, share your story and support this incredible action.

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A Belated Apology. Should We Accept?

17 Mar

Coming out was easily one of the best times of my life. One simple action filled my life with unexpected and wonderful clarity and honesty.  For the first time I was truly being honest with myself and those around me. It was a fresh and invigorating time for me and was very nearly ruined by a fellow student: Ryan Miner.

The very week that I began telling my colleagues and friends, brave students at Duquesne University were attempting to start the first gay straight alliance on our Catholic campus and one student, Miner, stood in their way.  He took to facebook, a brand new platform at the time, and lead the charge against the GSA with characteristic arrogance, filled our community with anti-gay animus, and even went so far as to say that gays were subhuman.

Ryan Miner almost single-handedly created a hostile and disrespectful atmosphere on our campus. Though he eventually lost, his comments helped me understand the stakes for LGBT people and provided the motivation for me to get in the game.

Now he has again taken to the internet seeking absolution:

“I did not measure my words; I did not think clearly. I made a statement in haste and words can sincerely have hurtful consequences, and that’s the message to students or anyone who uses the Internet,” Miner told Channel 4 Action News reporter Shannon Perrine in a Skype interview.

He believes it’s important to tell others to stand up for what you believe in — but to be careful about the words you use to do it.

“You have to have some principles behind you, and at that time, I just didn’t have it. It was immaturity and I’m profoundly sorry,” Miner said.

What you write on the internet lasts forever. Ryan Miner didn’t get it at the time, but now he’s starting to learn the hard way.  After being fired from one job and having difficulty finding others he is finding himself in a Rick Santorum situation (just google it).

Only Ryan knows what’s in his heart now. If he has come around and now regrets his statements, not just how he posted them, then I, as someone most directly affected by his remarks, am willing to forgive him.

But absolution wont come that easy.  He’s still paying for his mistakes, and rightly so. I think a demonstration of his commitment to making it right is in order. Spending a few hours volunteering at an LGBT youth center, making an It Gets Better video, or issuing a public statement about school bullying.

That, more than a surface attempt to fix his Google problem, would go a long way to making it right.

Wanna Get Out of Jury Duty? Just Say You’re Gay!

2 Mar

Over the years, we’ve thought of hundreds of ways of protesting the system which allows LGBT individuals to be second-class citizens. We’ve thought of protesting by not paying taxes – which could land you in jail. We’ve chained ourselves to the marriage bureaus – which just winds up with cut chains and a night in jail, maybe a few photos on a gay blog or two. We’ve even tried “Day Without a Gay” where LGBT people took the day off of work to show just how numerous we are – but in an economy like this one, we all need a paycheck, gay and straight alike.

Jonathan D. Lovitz (photo from Jonathan's facebook page)

Then yesterday, in a rather simple statement and wonderful declaration of his second-class citizenship, New York musical theatre actor and model, Jonathan D. Lovitz challenged one of his civic duties.

Jonathan posted on his facebook page about his experience while being considered for jury duty:

“had an intense day at jury duty. During voir dire we were asked who would not be impartial. I raised my hand and said “since I can’t get married or adopt a child in the state of New York, I can’t possibly be an impartial judge of a citizen when I am considered a second class one in the eyes of this justice system.” You wouldn’t believe how people in the room reacted. Was I wrong for saying that?”

Jonathan was excused from jury duty as the moment you say you cannot be impartial, you will undoubtedly be excused. So Jonathan not only got to stand up for himself as a self-respecting gay man, but he also got out of jury duty for the next few years! I highly recommend this same action for any LGBT individual that gets called in for service. If you want to take the chance and take part in a little civil disobedience, I’d even recommend sending in a letter along with your summons explaining your position – although this may be an arrest-risk. Your best bet is to show up and do the same thing Jonathan did.

Jonathan will soon be appearing on the Logo reality series “Set-up Squad.”

Straight to the Gay Bar: Friendfactor Makes a Splash

2 Dec

Most out LGBT people I know, can recall coming out to their best straight friend or their straight brother or sister or even their parents. When we recall that moment, it’s hard not to also remember the awkward questions that followed…

“So…have you ALWAYS been this way?”

“Do you like musicals now?”

and the ever-famous…

“So…how do you…do…it?”

What many of us don’t really notice is just how easy it becomes to communicate with our straight friends and family once the big questions have already been asked. Of course this isn’t ALWAYS the case and some of us are dismissed and disowned outright, and sometimes the conversation never moves past the awkward. But for those relationships that are lucky enough to move beyond that, Brian Elliot and his pals at Friendfactor want you to take the next step.

Having started a Facebook group called “Give Brian Equality,” Brian succeeded in getting 600 of his friends to join – to learn about the inequalities he faces. Brian was shocked to see that in just four weeks, the group had grown to 19,000 people. So he started Friendfactor, a new online platform designed to assist LGBT people in communicating with their straight friends about equality. We announced the launch of the app and website just a few weeks ago.

It’s time to move past “Does this belt go with this dress?” and on to “Did you know I can be fired for being gay in 29+ states?”

Tonight, Friendfactor had it’s first Friendraiser, encouraging LGBT people to attend and bring along a straight friend or two. The event, titled “Straight to a gay bar” was a huge success with over 200 attendees and a little education mixed with a few drinks. The approach was subtle and even featured a gameshow where the straight friend had to guess if the title read by the host was the name of a gay bar or a steakhouse, and the gay friend had to guess between straight bars and day spas. Needless to say, “Mantini” and “Touch” were among the stumpers. Visit www.Friendfactor.org to find out more information. Here’s a few photos from tonight’s event:

Patty Buckley, COO and Brian Elliot, Founder of Friendfactor

 

All photos copyright Jamie McGonnigal; EqualityPhotography.com

FriendFactor: Game Changer

8 Nov

A new social media platform launched this weekend which is going to have a big impact on the landscape of the LGBT movement.  FriendFactor is an online advocacy tool which aims to bring more people into the movement based on a simple concept: support your friends.

The website empowers individuals to create their own campaign page and builds a bridge between LGBT issues and LGBT people and friends.

Through public education and advocacy tools, Friendfactor cultivates new “champions of freedom,” people who, when asked to support their gay* and transgender friends, will do so. Gay* friends matter more than gay* issues for most people, but many friends don’t know what’s at stake or how to help, and most gay* and transgender Americans don’t know how to ask. Friendfactor seeks to fill that gap and shift the gay* rights dialogue away from ideology and toward a more personal and inclusive concept: friends helping friends.

This is exactly the right time for this concept.  Almost everyone under 30 is fluent in the language of social media and this site gives them a way to get in the game using familiar tools.

I’ve created my Advocacy HQ already.  Your turn.