Hot! New (and old) Laws for Same-Sex Couples

German Court Demands Tax Benefit for Same-Sex Couples

Germany’s top court has ruled that homosexual couples must receive a tax benefit  available to heterosexual married couples. The verdict comes as the ruling CDU debates making same-sex couples more equal in tax law.

The Federal Constitutional Court ruled that gay couples in registered civil partnerships must be treated exactly the same as married heterosexual couples with regard to land transfer tax. The court also ruled that those who did not benefit from the law should be retroactively compensated.

The law was prompted after two men, who divorced in 2009, asked the Constitutional Court to backdate the tax exemption.The tax exemption means that when one member of a divorced couple buys a piece of previously jointly-owned real estate from the other, no taxes need to be paid.

Still, Volker Beck, a parliamentary leader of the Green party, has called for Germany to go further and grant homosexuals the right to marry, rather than having so-called civil partnerships.

Vietnam Looking at Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage

Vietnam’s communist government is considering whether to allow same-sex couples to marry or legally register and receive rights. This would make the country the first in Asia to do so.

The Justice Ministry’s proposal to include same-sex couples in its overhaul of the country’s marriage law has even surprised gay rights activists. No one knows what form this would take or if it will survive long enough to be debated before the National Assembly next year. However, supporters say the fact that it’s even being considered is a victory in a region where simply being gay can result in jail sentences or whippings.

Until recently, homosexuality was labeled a “social evil” alongside drug addiction and prostitution in the country.

The Justice Ministry said a legal framework is necessary because the courts do not know how to handle disputes between same-sex couples living together. The new law could provide rights such as owning property, and inheriting and adopting children.

Hawaii Upholds Ban on Same-Sex Marriage

A federal district court in Hawaii has upheld the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in a ruling that contrasts decisions that have struck down the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8.

The ruling determined the ban on same-sex marriage is constitutional because Hawaii has a legitimate interest in restricting marriage to straight couples.

Supporters of the ban say that this ensures procreation and promotes the ideal family situation of having a mother and father.

According to the Washington Blade, the decision upholding a state’s marriage ban is relatively unique amid a string of victories against California’s Proposition 8 and DOMA. Within the course of three years, a district court and an appeals court have ruled against California’s marriage ban, while five district courts, one appeals courts and one bankruptcy court have ruled against DOMA.  

However, Hawaii has granted legal recognition to same-sex couples when Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed civil unions legislation into law last year. But supporters of same-sex marriage are still waiting for the current law to be overturned and in its place have a law legalizing couples to marry.


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