Mass. gay couples to NY: DOMA denies you benefits

By DENISE LAVOIE | July 21, 2011 | 4:43 PM EDT

Jim Fitzgerald, left, sits with his spouse Al Koski, right, outside their home in Bourne, Mass., Thursday, July 21, 2011. Koski, 68, worked as a Social Security claims representative for more than 20 years before retiring in 2005. But even though he and Fitzgerald, 60, have been together for 36 years, and were legally married in Massachusetts in 2007, the federal government won’t allow Fitzgerald to access Koski’s federal pension. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

BOSTON (AP) — As same-sex couples in New York prepare this weekend to tie the knot, their brethren in Massachusetts, the first state to legalize gay marriage, have some advice.

Enjoy the wedding because afterward, they will realize that there are 1,000 or so benefits gay couples can't get because of the federal defense of Marriage Act. Among them: They can't file joint federal tax returns, get federal health plans for spouses or access spouses' federal pensions.

They say their push for equal rights doesn't end with marriage. They want DOMA repealed. The 1996 law prevents the federal government from recognizing gay marriages.

DOMA supporters argue that marriage is a union between a man and a woman and that repeal would violate the views of most Americans.