In 2004, the state of Massachusetts became the first American state to legalise same-sex marriages. More and more eventually legalised until 37 out of the 50 American states allowed same-sex marriage. Go progress!
America is divided into different states – and each state has its own state government. The USA also has a federal government, which is the national government for the whole of the United States.
Power is shared between the two – which is why different states have different laws.
The Supreme Court is the highest court in America. There are nine judges in the Supreme Court, and each one will have been nominated by the President, and then confirmed by the Senate. They rule on the biggest decisions that affect laws over all of the country.
Until 2013, there was a federal law: The Defence of Marriage Act. This allowed states to refuse to recognise same-sex marriages that had been granted in other states as legal. In other words, even though federal law should technically be obeyed by every single state, the Defence of Marriage Act meant that some states could abide and others not. Talk about big sister vs little sister syndrome.
BUT THEN…The Supreme Court went “HELL NO!”, and destroyed the Defence of the Marriage Act.
Removing the act was a big win for the gay rights movement, but it has not meant that other states automatically have to recognise same-sex marriage….UNTIL NOW.
Check out Vox.com’s awesome video showing how same-sex marriage has been legalised across states over time:
Not all states were happy with the law being removed. People dissatisfied with the decision of the Courts lodged an appeal with the Federal Appeals Court (so many courts, so little time). The Appeals Court couldn’t agree on a decision so the Supreme Court had to sort it out once and for all.
Out of the Nine justices of the Supreme Court, Five voted in favour of gay marriage. This ruling strikes down same-sex marriage bans across the whole of the USA. It also means states have to accept sex-sex marriages performed in other states.
All eyes were on Justice Anthony Kennedy: he was the swing vote who could have gone either way (no pun intended). Kennedy and four other judges rejected claims that marriage was just for pro-creation and for creating a family.
They ruled that prohibiting same-sex marriage is discriminatory and against the United States Constitution.
The 14th Amendment of the Constitution says that states must provide equal protection under all laws to all groups of people. Therefore, you can’t ban same-sex marriages as that would mean they have fewer rights than heterosexuals.
This argument was successfully used in 1967 to rule that states were NOT allowed to ban inter-racial couples from marrying. It was part of the case in 2013 that removed the Defence of the Marriage Act.
What’s the difference between a Dom and Non-Dom?
Domicile and Non-domicile is a matter of status. You have a domicile status in a place where you permanently live and/or have originated from, you have a non-domicile status in a place where you might be currently living but wouldn’t consider your permanent home or origination.
I want a status, where do I get one?
You tend to be born with one. Where you are born however, does not necessarily determine your domicile status. You tend to inherit your status from your father (and sometimes your grandfather).
E.g. you might be born in the UK but your father spent most of his life in Spain and would consider Spain his permanent home. You are therefore granted a non-dom status even if you continue to live in the UK.
You do also have a domicile choice…if you have a domicile status in the UK and decide to emigrate to another country you can actively change your status. If you decide that France is the place for you and decide to live there indefinitely, should you return to the UK you will now have acquired a non-dom status.
What’s all the fuss?
If you have a non-dom status you don’t have to pay UK tax on foreign income until you’ve been living in the UK for seven years.
FOREIGN INCOME IS? Money made abroad. You might live in the UK but your business might reside in another country, or you could be making money off of the property you own abroad, or you might have relatives abroad giving you money.
With your non-dom status you don’t have to pay UK tax on this foreign income for seven years as long as it is under £2,000 or not transferred to the UK.
After seven years, then what?
You pay a fee to keep your non-dom status. This is also known as a remittance and costs £30,000 per year if you’ve been resident of the UK for at least seven of the previous 9 tax years (this rises to £50,000 once you’ve been here 12 of the previous 14 years).
Again, WHAT IS THE FUSS?
Wealthy individuals from all over the world have been coming to live in the UK and using their non-dom status to avoid paying a lot of tax. Similarly, several UK citizens through domicile choice have been able to acquire a non-dom status and benefit from the same scheme.
SHOULD WE BLAME THEM? HOW CAN WE, THE UK HAS MADE IT LEGAL.
Players: Enticing these wealthy individuals to live in our country brings us investment and money from the UK taxes that they have to pay.
Haters: Our country is out of pocket 100’s of millions of £ worth because of it.
If you hadn’t guessed already, the Tories are the players and Labour are the haters…
Ed Miliband announced that if he gets voted in the GE15, he’d like to scrap the non-dom status once and for all. Cameron says, you won’t need to, these wealthy individuals won’t stick around long enough to see you scrap it.
Who knows…and yet we’re meant to decide.