Merrill Holds Out Hope for Gay Couples in Light of Latest U.S. Tax Court Ruling

PALM SPRINGS, Calif., July 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A United States Tax Court has denied gay rights activist, author and artist Charles Merrill his joint filing status, effective July 2009. The determination concludes that Merrill owes the federal government nearly a million dollars for not paying taxes in 2004 and 2005, a time during which he and his partner were publicly committed and residing in North Carolina. While living in that state, Merrill was prohibited from filing jointly due to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), yet he couldn't legally marry due to North Carolina law.

The full opinion, plus a poll on the fairness of this recent ruling, is now posted on Pam's House Blend (, one of today's leading blogs for the gay and lesbian community. Reaction on the blog has been wholeheartedly supportive of Merrill's challenge of the constitutionality of DOMA through his refusal to pay taxes. Bloggers have also noted fresh inspiration from Merrill's unyielding commitment to fight for the rights of gay and lesbian couples nationwide. Merrill doesn't view his case as lost, but rather a sign of hope for same-sex couples who support his efforts to increase demand for the repeal of DOMA and awareness of the issue.

"When the court recognizes the legality of same-sex marriage and the unconstitutionality of DOMA, and removes any possibility for persecution of what is my right, then I will gladly pay toward the system -- but not until then," Merrill says. "I'm pleased to receive the support and recognition of so many people who grasp the seriousness of this fundamental flaw within our country's laws. Their great attention to this issue gives me hope for change. I've committed no crime here, but the laws that have been placed against me and so many other gay couples nationwide are most certainly a crime against humanity."

Merrill, who is bisexual, moved with his partner Kevin Boyle to California, where they married and have lived since 2008. He was also married for 23 years to Evangeline Johnson, the only daughter of Johnson & Johnson founder Robert Wood Johnson. Having experienced the tax-code benefits afforded to straight, married couples, he realized firsthand exactly how unfair the laws were when applied to same-sex couples.

As a consequence of not paying the taxes deemed owed by the U.S. Tax Courts in this case, Merrill could face prison time. Failure to fork over the money is a misdemeanor, whereas filing jointly under DOMA is a felony (1996, Mueller vs. Commissioner). While Merrill does have tax attorneys interested in pursing the case, the activist says the courts move slowly and that time is on his side. His age, 75, is to his advantage, he says, and that's yet another reason to remain hopeful about and true to his mission, and ignore government intimidation.

For more information about Charles Merrill, visit

Photo of Charles Merrill:


    Charles Merrill - Palm Springs
    Tel: 760 219 1121

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SOURCE Charles Merrill


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