When is a husband not a husband?

Jay Fisette
Jay Fisette

Arlington County Board chairman Jay Fisette married his long-time partner Bob Rosen in September after the Internal Revenue Service ruled that same-sex marriages will be recognized for federal tax purposes, no matter where the couple resides. So when he filed the annual financial disclosure this week, as required by Virginia law, one might expect that Rosen would be listed there, right?

Jay Fisette's 2014 financial disclosure statement
Jay Fisette’s 2014 financial disclosure statement

Wrong. Even though the men have been together for 30 years, and the wedding was conducted at All Souls Church Unitarian  in the District of Columbia, where same-sex marriage is legal, the couple is not married under Virginia law. Hence, no disclosure of Rosen’s finances is required.

Most local media have written about the marriage, and the partnership is no secret in Arlington. Rosen is the founder and CEO of Arlington-based Healthy Companies International.

“The first year or two I was on the board, I did it for symbolic reasons,” Fisette said. “Now, it’s just more work… it wasn’t worth the effort of getting all those files together.”

Fisette did ask the county attorney for an opinion on the matter and was told that Rosen need not be listed. The information that Virginia requires of members of an elected official’s immediate family is not all that illuminating: One is required to list the family member’s source of any wage or salary (but not the salary itself) that exceeds $10,000. Loans taken out by spouses have to be disclosed, but not gifts. Most financial information is reported in ranges, such as holding securities or debts from $10,000 to $50,000, $50,000 to $250,000, or above $250,000.

“This does raise the impact of having different laws and statutes … there’s a lot of confusion out there because of the inconsistencies,” said Fisette. “We’re in that middle period where it’s very confusing to many people.”

Patricia Sullivan seeks out news about Alexandria and Arlington County for the Washington Post.
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