House approves PRIDE Act to give gay couples refund on back taxes

The U.S. House approved — with zero opposition — legislation that would allow same-sex couples to obtain an estimated $67 million in tax refunds if they married before the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013.

The legislation, known as the PRIDE Act, or the Promoting Respect for Individuals’ Dignity and Equality Act, was introduced by Reps. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) and Andy Levin (D-Mich.)

Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.), who’s gay and co-chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus, spoke out in favor of the bill on the House floor.

“Equality takes many forms,” Takano said. “It means civil, social and financial equality. This legislation directly tackles financial inequality created by parts of our tax code head on.”

The PRIDE Act would remove gendered language — like husband and wife — from the U.S. tax code. Additionally, the legislation comprises the Refund Equality Act, which would allow same-sex couples who married before DOMA was struck down to claim tax refunds for which they would’ve been eligible in the past if not for the anti-gay federal law, which barred recognition of same-sex marriage for the purposes of federal benefits.

Jurisdictions that recognized same-sex marriage more than three years before the DOMA decision were Massachusetts, Connecticut, California, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont, and D.C.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement the PRIDE Act is about “honoring our diversity and providing long-overdue justice to countless same-sex couples across the country who have been denied critical tax refunds because of who they are and who they love.”