The Defense of Marriage Act and Federalism

DOMA turns out to prevent states from recognizing domestic partnerships in their public-employee pension plans.

Remember the claim that the Defense of Marriage Act was designed simply to prevent the nationalization of gay marriage under the “Full Faith & Credit” clause?


Stuart Levine points to a recent IRS ruling interpreting DOMA to mean that a state, in running its own pension plan for its own employees, can’t extend certain benefits to domestic partners or gay couples married under the state’s own laws without causing the entire pension plan to lose its qualification for Federal tax purposes.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: