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Breaking: Alaska Supreme Court Rules For Same-Sex Couples In Tax Case — Is Marriage Next?

by David Badash on April 25, 2014

in Marriage,News

Post image for Breaking: Alaska Supreme Court Rules For Same-Sex Couples In Tax Case — Is Marriage Next?

The Alaska Supreme Court today ruled that same-sex couples must be treated under the law as equal to different sex couples in an issue regarding property taxes. Given that Alaska has a long-standing constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, this case might be used as a precedent in the future to overturn the ban and extend marriage to same-sex couples.

“The Alaska Supreme Court ruled today that the state unconstitutionally discriminates against same-sex couples by denying them equal access to a property tax exemption for senior citizens and disabled veterans,” the ACLU announced.

“Families in Alaska deserve better than a second-class system of laws for same-sex couples who are just as committed to each other as heterosexual couples,” said Joshua Decker, executive director of the ACLU of Alaska via a statement. “Our senior citizens and veterans should not have to pay more taxes just because they happen to be gay or lesbian.”

The lead plaintiffs, Julie Schmidt, 71, and Gayle Schuh, 66, have been partners for 36 years, and moved to Alaska from Illinois after retiring from careers in education.

“Gayle and I built a home and a life here because we loved what Alaska had to offer,” said Schmidt. “It hurt that the state that we loved so much treated us like strangers. It is gratifying to have our relationship recognized.”

The case, Schmidt v. Alaska, includes two other same-sex couples.

Julie Vollick and Susan Bernard, who have been together for seven years and are raising four children, jointly purchased their Eagle River home in 2004. Vollick retired from the United States Air Force after 20 years of service, including tours in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and has service-related disabilities.

“I was proud to serve our country and defend our democratic values,” said Vollick. “All we want is the fairness I’ve fought to defend.”

Fred Traber, 62, and Larry Snider, 69, have been together for 28 years and have had long careers in Alaska, including small-business ownership and government employment.

“We are proud of our relationship and are happy to stand up to ensure that our long-term commitment is treated fairly,” Traber said.

Alaska is one of just three states that don’t offer marriage equality and do not have a lawsuit pending suing for the freedom to marry. News broke today that a lawsuit will soon be filed in South Dakota, leaving Alaska, North Dakota and Montana without pending lawsuits.

Image of Julie Schmidt  and Gayle Schuh via Facebook

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{ 1 comment }

BJLincoln April 25, 2014 at 5:19 pm

Change is coming.

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