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Tax Exemption Found Unavailable for Gay Couples

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Rhode Islanders are learning that the state’s recently passed civil-union law allowing gay couples an exemption from the estate tax provided to married couples is not delivering as promised.

The tax, which applies when an estate exceeds $859,350, but not when an estate is passed on to a surviving spouse, is closely tied to federal law that defines marriage as a legal union between a man and a woman.

The Providence Journal reports that gay-rights advocates are surprised.

Karen L. Loewy, a lawyer for the Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, said her Boston-based organization had the impression, based on discussions with officials in the administration of Gov. Lincoln Chafee that the new law would be interpreted broadly.

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