POLITICS
06/26/2013 02:29 pm ET Updated Jun 26, 2013

Supreme Court Gay Marriage Ruling Will Tighten Ethics And Campaign Finance Laws

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court's ruling overturning the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act will alter a host of ethics and campaign finance laws that apply to elected and appointed officials as well as campaign donors.

Ethics laws requiring disclosure of spousal income, banning gifts to spouses from certain sources and banning nepotism will now apply to elected, executive and federal agency officials in same-sex marriages and unions. Also, married same-sex couples will now be able to give joint contributions from a single bank account to political campaigns.

These changes underline how much the DOMA affected federal statutes, beyond those debated when the law was passed. The court, in the ruling issued Wednesday, noted that, because of DOMA, key "government-integrity rules do not apply to same-sex spouses."

The government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a brief in the DOMA case arguing that the application of DOMA provided exemptions from ethics laws for married gay couples and harmed the public by opening avenues for nepotism and corruption while limiting certain disclosure laws.

"It means that the same sorts of restrictions that apply to heterosexual married couples will apply to gay married couples," said CREW executive director Melanie Sloan after the court's ruling. "It's terrific because there shouldn't be exemptions from disclosure."

The first real example of the disclosure exemption under DOMA emerged when Sean Eldridge, a Democratic congressional candidate and the husband of Facebook millionaire and New Republic owner Chris Hughes, filed his first financial disclosure report, as required by federal ethics laws. Normally, candidates must list their spouse's assets in such reports, but Eldridge did not disclose Hughes' vast wealth because DOMA prevented recognition of their marriage.

This exemption from disclosure also applied to agency heads in the executive branch. Under DOMA, the same-sex spouse of an agency head could receive payment from a company or industry under the agency's regulatory power without making that payment public information.

Gifts over $1,000 and honoraria given to spouses will also now be required to be disclosed on financial disclosure reports filed by both congressional candidates and executive officials covered by disclosure laws in the Ethics in Government Act. Same-sex spouses will also be covered by a host of other congressional ethics laws limiting payments and paid travel, among other things.

Bribery laws will be expanded to cover same-sex spouses of federal and District of Columbia officials, previously not the case under DOMA. As the CREW brief noted, "as a result [of DOMA], same-sex spouses might avoid culpability for engaging in conduct that would be criminal for opposite-sex married couples."

While most of the changes to ethics laws involve expanding restrictions and disclosure requirements to cover same-sex spouses, campaign finance law will be ever so slightly expanded.

The Federal Election Commission will now have to allow same-sex couples to make joint contributions from a single bank account.

In an April advisory opinion brought about by Dan Winslow, a Senate candidate in the Republican special primary election to fill the seat vacated by Secretary of State John Kerry, the FEC ruled that because of DOMA same-sex couples could not make joint contributions from a single bank account.

The FEC opinion states that, if the court overturns DOMA, the FEC would happily revisit the issue. "If DOMA is held to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court – or is otherwise modified or repealed – the Commission will, upon request, revisit this issue," it says.

Paul Ryan, a lawyer with the Campaign Legal Center, a campaign finance watchdog group in Washington, D.C., doubted that the FEC would even need to issue a new opinion. "I wouldn't think there would be any need to go back to the FEC for clarification, it's pretty simple."

The court ruling will also have an effect on federal lobbying laws, which in the House ban the spouses of Congress members from lobbying their spouse's office. In the Senate, spouses are banned from lobbying anyone in the body. These laws will now have to recognize same-sex spouses as lobbyists and extend these restrictions to them as well.

Congressional insider trading rules enacted in the 2012 STOCK Act, requiring members of Congress and their spouses to report stock trades more frequently and banning them from using information gained from their position to trade stocks, will now apply to same-sex spouses.

Anti-nepotism laws also will be expanded to cover the same-sex spouses of federal judges. Laws requiring judges to recuse themselves from cases where their spouse holds a financial interest will now apply to same-sex spouses of federal judges.

HuffPost

BEFORE YOU GO

PHOTO GALLERY
Politicians React To Prop 8 And Defense Of Marriage Decisions

06/26/2013 7:32 PM EDT

Catholic Archbishop: DOMA, Prop 8 Rulings 'Hurt Us All'

Some Catholic leaders are asking parishioners to consider the judgment of a higher power, not the nation's highest court.

Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron issued a statement criticizing the Supreme Court's decision in the DOMA and Prop 8 cases, saying that attempts to redefine marriage "hurt us all."

The well-being of our society, our nation, and our families is intimately linked to the institution of marriage. These decisions by the United States Supreme Court will make significantly more difficult our work of upholding the truth that marriage is a lifelong covenant between one man and one woman. Such decisions, made by any civic authority, do not serve the common good.

Catholics and millions of our fellow citizens will continue to make the case, respectfully yet vigorously, that marriage cannot be redefined, and that attempts to do so hurt us all.

Read more here.

06/26/2013 5:58 PM EDT

Stonewall Inn Crowd Celebrates DOMA, Vows To Keep Fighting

The Huffington Post's Lila Shapiro reports:

NEW YORK -- On Wednesday, the Stonewall Inn opened earlier than usual. At 10 a.m., the day the U.S. Supreme Court handed the gay rights movement a landmark victory, the historic bar was dimly lit, strung with rainbow flags, and filled with revelers toasting each other and pledging their determination to keep fighting.

Read the whole post here.

06/26/2013 4:16 PM EDT

Washington National Cathedral Rings Bells Celebrating Gay Marriage Rulings

The Washington National Cathedral rang bells at noon today to celebrate the Supreme Court rulings on the Defense Of Marriage Act and Prop 8.

Rev. Gary Hall, Dean of the Cathedral, released a statement soon after the rulings were announced:

“We are ringing our bells at the Cathedral to celebrate the extension of federal marriage equality to all the same-sex couples modeling God’s love in lifelong covenants," he said. "Our prayers for continued happiness are with them and with all couples who will be joined in matrimony in the years to come, whether at Washington National Cathedral or elsewhere."

Click here to hear the bells.

06/26/2013 4:12 PM EDT

Matthew Shepard's Mom Responds To DOMA Ruling

Matthew Shepard's mom, Judy, said she wished her son had lived to see Wednesday's Supreme Court ruling striking down DOMA.

"I wish he'd been here to see it," she said. "This case warms my heart, to think that his dream is still coming true."

Click here to read more.

06/26/2013 3:45 PM EDT

Marriage Equality Supporters Pictured Reacting To SCOTUS Rulings From Stonewall Inn

tears

(Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

06/26/2013 3:31 PM EDT

Celebrating From Stonewall Inn, Iconic Location Credited For The Start Of The LGBT Movement

stonewall inn

(Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

06/26/2013 3:20 PM EDT

Couple Kiss, Celebrate SCOTUS Decisions While Holding Their Soon-To-Be Adopted Children

kiss

(Photo by Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)

06/26/2013 3:09 PM EDT

DOMA Decision Helps LGBT Couples On Immigration

HuffPost's Elise Foley reports:

Judy Rickard, who is 65, and Karin Bogliolo, who is 72, have been together for eight years, legal domestic partners for five and legally married for two. They're one of an estimated 28,500 binational same-sex couples who have been excluded from immigration benefits because of DOMA, which disallowed the federal government from recognizing their marriages. The ruling doesn't entirely fix the problem -- couples must be married rather than partners, and must travel to a state that allows same-sex marriage if they don't live in one -- but it's still a major victory for LGBT rights.

Read more about Rickard and Bogliolo and more couples helped by the DOMA decision here.

06/26/2013 3:07 PM EDT

Food Network Host Announces Engagement To Partner Of 20 Years

Ted Allen, host of the hit Food Network show "Chopped" and his partner of 20 years, interior designer Barry Rice, were "over the moon" when they read on Wednesday morning that the court had ruled the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.

Their day had come. They were getting married. Allen quickly announced their engagement on Twitter and Facebook. He said that the notices garnered the most enthusiastic response of any he'd ever posted; his Facebook status received 417 comments in the first 40 minutes.

Fellow food competition host Tom Colicchio sent his enthusiastic congratulations to the couple via Twitter.

Allen said that he and Rice would soon begin preparing for their wedding, likely a quiet affair in New York, but for now they're content to revel in the good news.

"I don't think that by any means our movement is finished, that our work is done, but this was an enormous hurdle," he said. "DOMA has been Chopped, sir."

-- Joe Satran

06/26/2013 3:01 PM EDT

'Make Them Hear You'

The Gay Men's Chorus of Washington gathered outside the Supreme Court Tuesday, singing "Make Them Hear You" after the Supreme Court rulings. Watch a video of the performance below:

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