Buffalo, N.Y. (WKBW)- Same sex couples will now have the same rights as traditional couples in New York State as the Marriage Equality Act goes into effect this weekend but financially they are still not completely equal.
Same sex couples who tie the not in a state sanctioned ceremony will be granted the same rights as straight couples in New York State but the Federal government is not following suit. On a federal level, same sex couples are not recognized as a "single economic unit" according to the USA Today.
This may cause problems for newlywed couples and it stems from the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, also known as DOMA. This law defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Therefore, many of the financial rights that straight couples are guaranteed will not apply to same sex couples. In fact, the DOMA act denies gay couples more than a thousand federal rights that heterosexual couples receive.
The transfer of assets between same sex couples because of death or divorce is not easy. They can't pass along assets to the surviving spouse without a potential estate tax bill. Nor does the surviving spouse have rights to their loved one's social security benefits. Same sex couples also can't file joint federal tax returns at this time.
Gay rights activists are hoping to put pressure on the federal government to repeal DOMA so same sex couples can be recognized as equals on all levels.