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White House Clarifies What Laws Apply to Married Same Sex Couples

Friday, June 20th, 2014

White HouseThe White House has finished a year-long study of the impact of last year’s Supreme Court decisions for marriage equality on the Federal Government.

The bad news? Some benefits will not be available to couples who move to states that don’t recognize their marriages.

The Washington Blade reports:

…the administration will announce federal laws that look to the state of residence instead of the state of celebration to determine whether a couple is married “preclude the federal government from extending benefits to legally married couples regardless of where they currently live,” the official said. That means, under current law, certain Social Security and veterans benefits won’t be available to married same-sex couples if they wed in one state, but move to one of the 30 states without marriage equality and apply for the benefits there.

So if you marry in California and move to Arizona, forget the Social Security survivor benefits.

The good news?

The Department of Labor is set to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking on the Family & Medical Leave Act, clarifying an employee is eligible for leave to care for a same-sex spouse — even if the couple lives in a non-marriage equality state. The rule builds off an earlier announcement in August in which the Labor Department indicated married same-sex couples were eligible under the FMLA, but that development only applied to couples living in states with marriage equality.

Fixing the issues will likely require either congressional action (which looks extremely unlikely in the foreseeable future) or a Supreme Court decision striking down the remaining marriage equality bans.

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The Lay of the Land Post-Windsor and –Perry

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

With marriage equality now coming to Illinois and Hawaii, nearly 40% of the country lives in a marriage equality state. But just how federal and state governments will navigate the still-unsettled reality (and consequences) of marriage equality remains an open question.

Although Windsor invalidated Section 3 of DOMA, it left Section 2 in place, which allows states to refuse to recognize same gender marriages performed in other states. Marriages are not judgments or orders, and are therefore not entitled to equality under constitutional principles of full faith and credit among the states. This has the potential to impact benefits, parental rights, divorce, and other issues for same-sex couples depending on where they marry and where they live.

Read the full story on the MEUSA news blog…

USA: Social Security to Limit Payments to Couples in Marriage Equality States

Saturday, August 10th, 2013

Social Security Administration LogoNot unexpected, but unwelcome. The Social Security Administration will not recognize valid same sex marriages if the couple lives in a state that doesn’t recognize marriage equality. Buzzfeed reports:

The Social Security Administration is limiting payment of claims for same-sex married couples currently to those couples who were married in a state the allows same-sex couples to marry and are “domiciled,” or live, in a state that recognizes same-sex couples’ marriages. The decision means claims from same-sex couples married where such couples can legally marry but who live in a state that does not recognize such marriages are having their applications put on hold for the time being.

The basis?

Will Baude at The Volokh Conspiracy writes that he “assume[s]” that the decision is a result of “a special statute dealing with choice of marital law for social security claims,” which states that the marriage is valid for Social Security purposes “if the courts of the State in which such insured individual is domiciled … would find that such applicant and such insured individual were validly married.”]

I smell a lawsuit…

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USA: Bill Would Give Social Security Benefits to Same Sex Couples With Civil Unions

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Congresswoman Linda SanchezA California congresswoman is pushing a bill to give social security benefits to same sex couples in civil unions too. Metro Weekly reports:

Congresswoman Linda Sanchez is seeking to extend Social Security benefits to same-sex couples whose relationships are lawfully recognized with legislation announced today. The Social Security Equality Act would require the Social Security Administration to provide spousal, survivor and death benefits to same-sex couples who are not married, but are in a civil union. “It is time for our government to stop telling gay and lesbian couples that they are second class citizens,” the California Democrat said in a statement. “Same-sex couples pay into Social Security over the course of their working lives just like other Americans. They should receive the full benefits they have earned. My bill will make sure every American receives a benefit based upon their contribution to Social Security, not their sexual orientation.”

Ummm, shouldn’t we be pushing for full marriage equality instead of coming up with more reasons for states to hold on to civil unions laws?

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How DOMA Impacts Social Security for Gay/Lesbian Couples

Monday, September 17th, 2012

How The Defense of Marriage Act Impacts Social Security for Gay/Lesbian CouplesQ. I am a 61-year-old gay man who is about to retire. I have a 60-year-old partner. We have been together now for 38 years.

I have worked all my life. My partner has spent most of his life as a stay-at-home husband and father. (Yes, we raised a son and daughter, both of whom are now very successful.) I really enjoy your column and have learned a lot from it. But I have never seen a column in which you have discussed Social Security issues that impact gays and lesbians, especially with respect to benefits for spouses. What can you tell us about this?

A. Frankly, there isn’t much to tell you that doesn’t apply to everyone else. In almost all respects, Social Security is the same for straight people and for gay people.

Authored By Tom Margenau – See the Full Story at the National Ledger

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