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Saturday, July 19, 2014
Boston Not For Profit Leads Fight Against DOMA
Originally Published on forbes.com on July 18th,2011
GLAD (Gay & Lesbian Advocate & Defenders) is a Boston based not for profit which has had an impact out of proportion to its size. Although, I had heard of GLAD, I’ve noticed its significance in the last year through the tax cases that it has been involved in. One of my earliest and most popular (pre-Forbes) posts was on the case of Rhiannon G. O’Donnabhain, who wanted to deduct the cost of genderreassignment surgery as a medical expense. The IRS argued that the procedure was “cosmetic surgery” and not deductible. Ms. O’Donnabhain prevailed. Then came Gill V OPM. As I noted in my inaugural Forbes post, marital status impact over 1,000 “benefits, rights and privileges” in the United States Code. Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) holds that a couple is not married for any federal purpose unless they are of the opposite gender and that the word spouse means a person of the opposite gender. In Gill v OPM a district court ruled that Section 3 of DOMA had no rational basis. There were several plaintiffs in Gill, all legally married in Massachusetts, arguing for a variety of benefits including that of filing a joint return.
It turns out that GLAD was the moving force in both those cases. In November, GLAD filed Pederson v OPM on behalf of five couples and a widower in Connecticut, Vermont and New Hampshire. Pederson, along with a New York case had a very dramatic effect. The Obama administration has called for the repeal of DOMA, but the Department of Justice had been defending. Generally the executive branch defends the constitutionality of laws passed by Congress. When Pederson landed on their desk, though, DOJ decided that Section 3 of DOMA was indefensible. Congress has taken up the defense, which I have noted ironically provides a temporary subsidy to gay marriage.
GLAD has not been doing this on a shoe string, but given what they have accomplished they haven’t done it with much. According to the most recently available Form 990 (2009) GLAD operated on revenue of approximately $3,400,000. (Also the work on DOMA is only part of their mission). Although they apparently don’t require a vow of poverty, nobody is getting rich working for GLAD. In 2009 they paid their executive director about $145,000 and a legal director $122,000. Two attorneys make a little over $100,000 as does the development director. I have a bone to pick with the development director as it is awful hard to find GLAD on guidestar because GLAD is a dba for Park Square Advocates. (I had to call them up to find that out). I suspect volunteer labor is a part of their formula. Not included in the $3,400,000 is almost $1,300,000 of donated services. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that is mostly pro-bono legal services. I’m pretty confident about these numbers as the 990 was prepared by Alexander Aronson & Finning of Westborough, Massachusetts, a town that is a center of public accounting excellence.
In the 1830′s Alexis de Tocqueville noted that “There is hardly a political question in the United States which does not sooner or later turn into a judicial one.” GLAD is assaulting DOMA in the courts and seems to be forging ahead at the moment.