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.
"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."
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 make payment on the judgment 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.