Published : Friday, June 21, 2019 | 4:53 AM
[Updated] Local Rep. Judy Chu (D) has introduced legislation that would make U.S. tax code language gender-neutral and provide retroactive tax refunds to those who were not permitted to file jointly when the now-defunct Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was law of the land.
“Pride month is a chance for us to celebrate equality, and the victory that all love is equal,” said Chu in a statement. “However, that is not the case in our tax code where discriminatory language and restrictions are still intact. That is why I am proud to be introducing the PRIDE Act to make some common sense fixes to the tax code.”
H.R. 3299, the Promoting Respect for Individuals’ Dignity and Equality Act (PRIDE) would remove gendered language (read: “husband” and “wife”), from the tax code in consideration of same-sex couples.
Instead, filing forms would utilize the terms “spouses” and “married couple.”
The PRIDE Act contains a second bill, H.R. 3294, the Refund Equality Act.
It would change the tax code to allow same-sex couples, who married before DOMA was invalidated, to claim the refunds filing jointly would have yielded them.
Chu’s office said the fiscal impact of the second measure would be $57 million over 10 years.
DOMA was enacted in 1996. The Supreme Court struck down the law in 2015.
According to Chu’s office, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a candidate for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, is introducing companion legislation in the upper house.
“The legislation is in alignment with our mission of creating an inclusive San Gabriel Valley for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities,” said Aaron Saenz, board member, San Gabriel Valley LGBTQ Center.
Saenz said the proposed act is in synchronicity with efforts in the state legislature to make all legislation gender-neutral and inclusive.
“Certain legislators shared that initiative with us during LGBT Advocacy Day in May,” he explained. “Chudy Chu is trying to extend that to the national level. We think it’s going to be a good thing for the country.”
Reverend Susan Russell of All Saints Church in Pasadena said, “We are unabashedly enthusiastic about this important piece of legislation, which is going to help fill in the gaps for LGBT people around our nation.”
Russell saw signs of hope in the bill’s clearing the House Ways and Means Committee on a unanimous, bipartisan vote.
“It might just be the breakthrough in Washington about coming together around issues that actually impact the lives of Americans,” said Russell.