Arizona Gay-Marriage Proponents: IRS Decision to Recognize Same-Sex Marriages a Good Sign

The ruling by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service to recognize same-sex marriages for tax purposes is a good sign, according to a group of Arizona's gay-marriage proponents.

The agencies explained yesterday that same-sex couples that were legally married in any jurisdiction will be treated as a married couple for federal tax purposes, even if they currently live somewhere that doesn't recognize same-sex marriage.

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Warren Meyer, the chairman of Equal Marriage Arizona -- an organization that's trying to gather signatures to let voters decide on legalizing same-sex marriages in the state -- says this is a positive step for his movement.

"I certainly think any step in that direction, where we treat all marriages equally, is a positive step," Meyer tells New TImes.

The ruling from the federal agencies comes after the Supreme Court invalidated a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act a few months ago.

"Today's ruling provides certainty and clear, coherent tax filing guidance for all legally married same-sex couples nationwide," Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said in a statement. "It provides access to benefits, responsibilities and protections under federal tax law that all Americans deserve. This ruling also assures legally married same-sex couples that they can move freely throughout the country knowing that their federal filing status will not change."

Now, legally married same-sex couples have to file their federal income tax returns using either the "married filing jointly" or "married filing separately" status. This might actually create a higher tax burden for some. Arizona's Department of Revenue still doesn't recognize a same-sex marriage for state tax purposes.

To be clear, Meyer and Equal Marriage Arizona aren't endorsing the tax ramifications, but rather the feds' move to recognize those marriages.

"We're happy to see confirmation that the momentum is moving in this direction -- that's why we got this started," Meyer says. "I hope it makes it easier for voters in Arizona to accept this change that we're trying to get done."

Equal Marriage Arizona needs 259,213 valid signatures by July 2014 to get on the ballot.

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Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.