Singer Melissa Etheridge said she will stop paying her California state taxes after voters there approved a ballot measure banning gay marriages.
In a blog posting, the Academy Award-winning and Grammy Award-winning songwriter and activist said she intends to withhold approximately half a million dollars in tax payments to California because of the vote. "Okay, so I am taking that to mean I do not have to pay my state taxes because I am not a full citizen," she wrote. "I mean, that would just be wrong, to make someone pay taxes and not give them the same rights. Sounds sort of like that taxation without representation thing from the history books."
Etheridge encouraged comedian Ellen DeGeneres to quit paying state taxes as well. "Oh, and I am sure Ellen will be a little excited to keep her bazillion bucks that she pays in taxes too," she wrote. "Wow, come to think of it, there are quite a few of us fortunate gay folks that will be having some extra cash this year. What recession? We're gay! I am sure there will be a little box on the tax forms now: single, married, divorced, gay. Check here if you are gay. Yeah, that's not so bad. Of course all of the waiters and hairdressers and UPS workers and gym teachers and such, they won't have to pay their taxes either."
Another gay tax protester issued a statement applauding Etheridge's declaration. "During this time of economic strife, shouldn't it make sense that the federal and state governments recognize our marriages?" wrote Charles Merrill, a cousin of the co-founder of Merrill Lynch. "We want to pay taxes, but we don't like being treated as second-class citizens because of religious bigotry. President-elect Obama promised to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits us from getting federal benefits, 1,138 of them. We must hold him to his promise." Merrill is facing the prospect of three years or more in jail for not filing income taxes since 2004 in protest of the Defense of Marriage Act (see Merrill Cousin Faces Potential Jail Term for Tax Protest).
However, at least one of the people leaving comments on Etheridge's article, which was also published on the blog The Daily Beast, warned against her protest: "Please pay the tax. Why? Because once you violate a federal statute, you enter not only a world 'a pain in litigation, you also will eventually have to pay even more. The feds will get your money no matter what. You'll go thru hell. You energize the bigots who want to harm and block all gays and other minorities. They will also attack you. Spend your energy in songs and writings. Be creative in other ways."
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