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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.

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Jay M. August 06, 2012 at 03:44 PM
Great decision. Let's hope we see a time very soon when couples like Flint and Brad are treated the same as my wife and I.
Ken August 07, 2012 at 02:38 AM
I totally disagree with this Judge's opinion and strongly believe that it will be overturned. I'm sorry, but I was raised to believe that marriage is between one man and one woman. Anything else is wrong. And if we don't stand up for something as fundamental as this, then this nation is lost. Connecticut is already a lost cause. And it will pay a heavy price in the long run as people will eventually say "enough is enough" and move out in huge numbers...
Fudi Xu August 07, 2012 at 06:40 AM
@Ken Apology accepted. Now then, i don't really understand how this effects you. Because these 2 people just want to be happy, live peacefully, and be treated fairly. They aren't disturbing anyone and they aren't hurting anyone. Also, you can be raised a certain way, but that doesn't make it right. For example, if I were raised to hate African Americans, like so many were in the past, that doesn't mean that it is right. If I believed that and followed your train of thought, wouldn't most of America be a "lost cause" and people would "move out in huge numbers..." because the African American Movement was gaining momentum? Clearly, that isn't the case.
Ken August 07, 2012 at 03:12 PM
Fudi Xu - You're not really going to try to equate the Civil Rights movement with the homosexual movement in this country today, are you? Try making that argument to anyone in the African-American community over the age of 50 AND THEN STAND BACK! I heard an African-American leader say the other day that the movements will be equivalent when you see drinking fountains with signs that say, "For Heterosexuals Only". There is no equivalency. Never has been. And if you don't understand that, then you're probably not old enough to remember the '60s. I am.
Ken August 07, 2012 at 03:12 PM
Fudi Xu - (part 2) Look Fudi, I'm not saying that I don't want these men to "be happy or live peacefully". Though I don't agree with homosexuality, I would never want any physical harm to come to either of them. Every American has a right to live a life free of threats so they can pursue their dreams. The problem comes when they attack institutions like marriage. You say, "they aren't hurting anyone". That's where you're wrong. They're destroying one of the very foundations that made this Country, and even this Society, great. Which institution will they attack next? You say you "don't really understand how this effects [me]". Fudi, I LIVE in this Country, in this Society, and the destruction of those time-honored institutions means the further erosion of this Country's morals and values. I'm drawing a line in the sand. I have to for my family's sake.
Ken August 07, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Fudi Xu - (part 3) Sadly, like I said before, Connecticut has gone in the other direction. It's just a short matter of time before we leave this State. And we won't be alone. Thousands, perhaps tens of thousands or more, will follow. Look at the census numbers. It's already happening. And we'll be taking all of our income (and the tax revenue it generates for Connecticut) with us.
Ken August 07, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Kelly - All a reasonable person needs to do is read your baseless attack and hear your radical tone to understand my point exactly. You’re a fanatic. You're hysterical. And hysterical people should be pitied and seen for what they truly are. Radicalism doesn’t improve this Country. It destroys it. What are you going to attack next? The Constitution?
J. Sosallter August 07, 2012 at 05:15 PM
What's the topical point you're making Ken? All that you said is that anybody who disagrees with your statements is by definition unreasonabl? Some would argue that the principles on which the country was founded were indeed radical for their time; they certainly were rebellious. Cutting to the chase about what is essentially a position of equality under law isn't radical, it's the very essence of constitutional principles. Limitations of argumentation aside, there is no basis to argue that civil rights stand second to anybody's religious or personal moral belief. Live how you want, but don't apply your rules as the exclusive right answer for others. Seems that's a worthy aspiration. You shouldn't move. You should stay for the diversity you might represent, but it's a two way street.
Fudi Xu August 07, 2012 at 05:51 PM
Ken, it's hardly reasonable that you call Kelly a radical, when you are the one threatening to leave the state because of someone else's decisions. Also, radicalism defines our country. At one point, allowing slaves to vote was radical, having women work in the workplace was considered radical. But what is normal? If you think about it, the average age for prositution is 13...that's normal right? So, would you consider that okay then. Prostitution is the oldest profession in the world, so that's considered normal too right? Your views on normal and radical seem to be very off base. In addition, i DOUBT the main reason why people move out of state is because their differences with the LGBT community. That's pretty far fetched if you truly believe that.
Fudi Xu August 07, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Now, Ken,I understand your view points but I just want to remind you that...what if your children are gay? or your grand children? Would you really want this kind of treatment for your own family members? All the LGBT members, are somebody's child. They are a son or a daughter. Please keep that in mind before you begin bashing.
Ken August 07, 2012 at 06:11 PM
J. Sosallter - Answer this question: How can you say to me, "Don't apply your rules as the exclusive right answer for others.", and yet ask me to accept WITHOUT QUESTION the "rules" (in the form of homosexual marriage laws) as pushed by the radical gay community and affirmed by very liberal politicians in Connecticut? Are homosexual SUPPORTERS the only people that have a right to an opinion in this State? Furthermore, I think you're treading on very thin ice if you're going to invoke "the principles on which the country was founded". Our Founding Fathers were deeply religious men who, in my opinion, would be turning over in their graves if they thought the country they created would someday allow homosexual marriage.
Fudi Xu August 07, 2012 at 06:22 PM
The Founding Fathers also knew the Church and State should never mix...which is exactly what you are doing...
Ken August 07, 2012 at 06:27 PM
Kelly - Your quote just confirms my earlier point. Thank you.
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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