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Avon Same-Sex Couple Praises Federal Judge's Ruling on DOMA

James "Flint" Gehre and Brad Kleinerman are two of many plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the federal government claiming that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.

Last year, Avon couple James "Flint" Gehre and Bradley Kleinerman paid $8,000 more in income taxes because while Connecticut recognizes them as legally married, the federal goverment does not. Their first year of marriage in 2009 it was around $2,000, Gehre said.

But having to file separate tax forms is just one of about 1,100 protections that the same-sex couple is denied by the federal government, Gehre said, because of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

That is all one step closer to changing. Last week, U.S. District Judge Vanessa L. Bryant ruled that DOMA is unconstitutional because it violates the Fifth Amendment, the Associated Press reported. That is the amendment that ensures the right to equal protection. In February, the Obama administration deemed the section of DOMA unconstitutional.

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Gehre and Kleinerman are one of six married same-sex couples and a widower from Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont that are a part of the lawsuit Pedersen et al vs. Office of Personnel Management et al, according to an article about the case on the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders website. GLAD filed the lawsuit in November 2010.

"We're very pleased with the ruling," Gehre said. "It's another series of rulings in our favor, exposing DOMA for what it is – a law based on discrimination."

There will likely be appeals, but if the lawsuit prevails, Gehre said, the federal government will recognize "our family is as equal as other families."

Gehre and Kleinerman, who have been together for 21 years, came to Avon five years ago to raise a family because they thought the town had the "right environment" and quality schools. The Southern California natives have three adopted children, Raymond, 20, Rick, 19, and Joseph, 10, according to the GLAD website. Kleinerman works at CIGNA Healthcare and Gehre, now a stay-at-home dad, is a former teacher and police officer, GLAD reports.

"There are many federal rights people take for granted" that same-sex couples are not able to access, Gehre said.

While married heterosexual couples can file joint federal tax returns, gay and lesbian couples can't. But another major concern for Gehre is inheritance. He and his husband have to "take extra legal steps" to make sure that if something happens to one of them, all of their assets can go to their spouse.

There are several benefits that Gehre, his husband and their children are denied as a result of DOMA. For instance, Gehre previously said the law does not allow him or his husband to put his family on their medical benefits plan.

In a state where same-sex marriage isn't legal, Gehre and Kleinerman would not have visitation rights for each other in a hospital.

While the process of trying to overturn DOMA is still ongoing, the Avon couple is happy that last week's ruling is a sign that their cause continues to gain momentum.

See also:

Ken August 07, 2012 at 07:30 PM
Kelly - When you say, "Who knows when the law would turn against your personal interests.” you've got to be kidding, right? It’s the LAW in Connecticut that allows homosexuals to marry that’s AGAINST my personal interests! Or at least, my personal beliefs. Yet people like you are trying to suppress my very right to stand in opposition! You hypocrite! And if there's any analogy to be made to the "Nazis" in this issue, it's the dictatorial, liberal politicians in Hartford, supported by the brainwashing print and TV media, which forced this issue down the throats of the citizens of Connecticut.
Ken August 07, 2012 at 11:01 PM
Kelly - "However, your voice is wrong on this issue" - Who are YOU to sit in judgment as to whether my opinion is right or wrong? How arrogant. Furthermore, I DO have personal INTERESTS at stake…they’re called my Country, my wife and my children. I don’t want to leave to the next generation a Country whose moral foundations have been decimated by a group of individuals with a radical homosexual agenda. Look at your history. First, you added “sexual orientation” to discrimination laws. Then you pressured states into “civil unions”. Then, in the real liberal states like Connecticut, you forced them into homosexual marriage. Now your attack in aimed at DOMA. Where will you go then? And what will be the next group to demand their “equal rights”? The North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA)? Americans For Bestiality (AFB)? Would you, Kelly, deny them their “equal rights”? Why should GLAAD get their “rights” but the other groups not get theirs? Where’s THEIR “equality”?? Where does it end? I’ll tell you where. For me, it’s right here. Right now.
Ken August 08, 2012 at 12:29 AM
Kelly – So you say, “There is no need to worry about the fringe organizations you cite as successfully achieving a status of equal treatment because of the manifest problems.” Kelly, many people today consider GLAAD to be a “fringe organization”. So why shouldn’t I be “worried” about what other “fringe organizations” like NAMBLA might achieve after seeing everything GLAAD has done? Won’t the same Federal Judges that heard the GLAAD cases be hearing the NAMBLA cases? And what exactly are these “manifest problems” you speak about? Sodomy is the “new normal”, but Bestiality is a “manifest problem”? Following your logic, it shouldn’t be. After all, nobody’s getting hurt. All parties are consenting. No personal interests are at stake… I’ll tell you where the “manifest problem” is Kelly. This Country’s morals are going to hell in a hand basket and organizations like GLAAD are leading the way. But a change is in the wind. Hopefully this Country is starting to wake up (Did you get your Chick-Fil-A sandwich last Wednesday?). They understand that it’s not about “equal rights”, it’s about moral decay. Kelly, I think there’s one thing we can agree on. I’m never going to convince you and you’re never, ever going to convince me. Therefore, I’ve got better things to do with my time than to mince words with you. So now, as Bill O’Reilly would say, I’ll give you the final word…
Wyatt August 08, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Congrats to Brad and Flint - great to see a local couple fighting the good fight. I agree with "Jay M." above - for the life of me I can't see how discriminating against same sex couples benefits anyone - it only hurts those couples and their families. There is just no reason for DOMA.
Ken August 16, 2012 at 04:54 PM
People, who support DOMA, handle the issue by posting comments on blog sites like this one. In contrast, here's how people that oppose DOMA handle the issue: http://xfinity.comcast.net/articles/news-national/20120815/US.Security.Guard.Shooting/?cid=hero_media

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