Suze Orman, personal finance expert and host of “The Suze Orman Show” on CNBC, spoke with CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux to explain how Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and marriage discrimination are hurting the American economy.
Orman explained how DOMA unequally treats lawfully married same-sex couples under federal law, saying gay and lesbian couples “should be recognized for who they love and not penalized financially.” Although nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriage, DOMA prevents the government from recognizing these marriages, meaning these couple pay more taxes for fewer rights, over 1200 federal benefits. Orman detailed the financial discrimination gay spouses face upon the death of a partner, she said
“I have been with my partner, Kathy Travis, for 12 years. If I am lucky I will spend the rest of my life living and sharing my joys and happiness with her. We have worked very hard as a team to save for our future together and consider everything we have as equally owned by the other. If the federal government recognized same-sex marriage, then when one of us dies, our assets would seamlessly transfer free of tax to the survivor. That’s a basic right that every heterosexual married couple has. But because there is no federal recognition of same-sex marriage, if I die first, or vice versa, before either of us can inherit what is now jointly our assets, there would be a federal estate tax bill that one of us would currently have to pay. Again, to be clear: If we were a heterosexual married couple, there would be no estate tax regardless of the size of the estate or who died first.”