For Farid Ali Lancheros, a father and happily married gay Latino, hearing the news that all married, same-sex couples in the U.S. will receive federal tax benefits, was more than just an economical victory.
“It’s not just financial, it’s a big step,” Ali Lancheros said. “Little by little this country is forced to recognize the equality that exists and should have existed for everyone.”
Thursday’s ruling by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) applies to all same-sex couples, regardless of where they live.
If a couple is married in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage, they will be eligible to receive their tax benefits.
“Now they can marry in another state and move back or continue living where they always lived,” said Sergio Lopez, director of Latino programming at Freedom to Marry. “But now the federal government will recognize it.”
Thirteen states and Washington, D.C. have legalized same-sex marriage as of August: California, Delaware, Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Washington, Vermont, Rhode Island, New York, Minnesota and New Hampshire.
“Equal federal tax protections will not only endow legally married same-sex couples with the respect and dignity they deserve, but will also provide critical financial security for countless loving families,” said GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz.
Legally married same-sex couples will also have the freedom to move “throughout the country knowing that their federal filing status will not change,” Secretary Jacob J. Lew said in a statement.
But getting that recognition from the government will also help Latinos to be recognized by their families, Lopez said.
“For Latinos this is a big decision. It’s a giant step forward in the right direction,” Lopez said. “Our families will know that the federal government is recognizing our relationship and our families.”
For Ali Lancheros, getting his family to understand his decision to marry a man and have kids was not easy. He comes from a large Colombian family and said it was common to keep quiet and only whisper the details of his life.
“Perceptions might not change in the older generations,” Ali Lancheros said. “But their children, the youth and the generation to follow will see a big change for Latinos that are gay.”
Lopez said in the time he has been working to advocate for gay rights, he has seen a growing understanding of same-sex couples from heterosexuals and from family members.
“We are going to win this fight. We are on the right side of history,” Lopez said. “And we can finally ask our heterosexual friends for help on our taxes.”
If a couple is legally married, they will both be eligible to file status, personal and dependency exemptions, standard deduction, employee benefits, IRAs, earned income tax credits and child tax credits, according to the Treasury Department and IRS statement.
“As Latinos, we should take a stand and show our families that you can be gay and that we are not shunted by the public,” Ali Lancheros said. “Being gay is a miniscule part of who I am and what my gifts are to the world.”