Stop Social Security discrimination against same-sex couples

Limiting legal marriage to heterosexual couples has a clear discriminatory impact on gay and lesbian seniors. While people with same-sex partners are required to pay into Social Security, they are not eligible for key benefits. Same-sex couples are denied spousal benefits and cannot claim survivor and death benefits if their partner dies.
A new campaign called Rock For Equality is working to change this. At rallies on April 11 in Los Angeles and April 18 in Washington, DC advocates will protest this discrimination, raise awareness of the issue, and push for change. The rallies will include an action that’s new to me – rock-ins, with folks protesting in rocking chairs.
Visit Rock For Equality’s website to learn more, register for one of the rallies, or get involved in other ways.
And check out this powerful video promoting the campaign:

Transcript after the jump.


In the past decade alone, America’s same-sex couples have been deprived of more than $2 billion in Social Security benefits.
Bill: This is Harvey.
Alice: This was Sylvia when we met.
Coco: My sister introduced me to Concepcion so that Concepcion could keep busy when my sister was fooling around with her boyfriend.
Alice: She started out in the clubs in Greenwich Village as a hat check girl and eventually became a chief financial officer in the garment industry.
Bill: He was producing a series for Sci Fi called Battlestar Galactica.
Coco: On our 20th anniversary we had a holy union, and then on our 30th we did it again. And now I’d love to do it on our 40th.
Alice: When she went into the hospital I kept getting the question, “Who are you?” I said, “I’m her life partner of 43 years.” “That’s like a lifetime.” I said, “Yes it is.”
All Americans must pay into Social Security.
But LGBT Americans are denied benefits.
This is UNFAIR and UNEQUAL.
Bill: In the eyes of the federal government of course I’m nobody in relation to Harvey. The government sees the husband and wife as a team, but they don’t quite see us as a team.
Alice: When Sylvia died I had to move as fast as I could.
In a FAIR and EQUAL system, Alice would get a monthly Social Security benefit of $2400. She gets only $980.
Bill: I’m moving from a two bedroom house. I could have stayed in there if I had the social security, but I don’t.
In a FAIR and EQUAL system, Bill would get a monthly Social Security benefit of $2400. He gets only $800.
Coco: 39 years of paying into Social Security and to think that if anything happens to me none of that is going to go to Concepcion, that’s not a good feeling, that’s a pain in the stomach.
In a FAIR and EQUAL system, if Concepcion outlives Coco, she would get a monthly Social Security Survivors Benefit. She wont… unless the law is changed.
Bill: I just want to be afforded the same rights as anybody else.
Alice: To sit and talk amongst ourselves and complain gets nowhere. You’ve got to be heard out there.
Bill: You know if it takes us speaking up then by god I’m ready to speak up.
Alice: I don’t have a lot of years left but the years that I have I will fight for those rights because that is my purpose for getting up in the morning now.
Coco: I have faith that our community is going to be strong and raise hell.
it’s time to change the law.
Lorri L. Jean, CEO L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center: The LA Gay & Lesbian Center in partnership with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is committed to informing the American public of these shameful inequities in Social Security benefits. Please join us. Help stop Social Security discrimination against gay and lesbian Americans. It’s about our seniors. It’s about our future. It’s about all of us.
Join Rock For Equality, a national event to demand equal Social Security benefits for America’s same-sex couples. To learn more, visit: www.RockForEquality.org Together we will rally and rock to change the law.

Boston, MA

Jos Truitt is Executive Director of Development at Feministing. She joined the team in July 2009, became an Editor in August 2011, and Executive Director in September 2013. She writes about a range of topics including transgender issues, abortion access, and media representation. Jos first got involved with organizing when she led a walk out against the Iraq war at her high school, the Boston Arts Academy. She was introduced to the reproductive justice movement while at Hampshire College, where she organized the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program’s annual reproductive justice conference. She has worked on the National Abortion Federation’s hotline, was a Field Organizer at Choice USA, and has volunteered as a Pro-Choice Clinic Escort. Jos has written for publications including The Guardian, Bilerico, RH Reality Check, Metro Weekly, and the Columbia Journalism Review. She has spoken and trained at numerous national conferences and college campuses about trans issues, reproductive justice, blogging, feminism, and grassroots organizing. Jos completed her MFA in Printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute in Spring 2013. In her "spare time" she likes to bake and work on projects about mermaids.

Jos Truitt is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Development.

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Join the Conversation

  • Anna

    thanks so much for this jos. for someone who just lost a loved one, i know exactly how vital these benefits are!

  • Steven

    Clearly we should revoke all survivor benefits.
    Not joking either.
    Social Security needs to be cut down somehow before it is another reason the whole federal government tanks financially.

  • noalarms

    this campaign is actually quite flawed and not totally awesome, though at first glance one would think it would be. it requires some level of policy wonkness to realize the ways that social security is actually set up, and guess what? surprise surprise, it was set up to benefit nuclear heterosexual families with a single earner.
    check out this article:
    http://beyondstraightandgaymarriage.blogspot.com/2010/02/la-gay-and-lesbian-center-and-ngltf.html