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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 6, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 06
Obama budget gives Social Security benefits to all married couples
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Obama budget gives Social Security benefits to all married couples

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

President Obama's new 2016 budget proposal funds Social Security benefits for all same-sex married couples, regardless of the state they live in.

Currently, the Social Security Administration - almost alone among federal agencies - will only pay benefits if the couple actually lives in a state that recognizes their marriage. Same-sex marriages are currently recognized in 36 states.

Under the present system, for example, a couple married in California but living in Kentucky could not claim Social Security survivor benefits if one of them died. If they moved across the border to Virginia, however, the surviving spouse would be eligible.

Obama's budget, released February 2, 'proposes to amend the Social Security Act to ensure all lawfully married same-sex couples will be eligible to receive Social Security spousal benefits, regardless of where they live.'

The proposed $4 trillion budget would mean that even couples who live outside of the 36 states which allow same-sex marriage would receive Social Security survivor benefits just as opposite-sex married couples do.

Freedom To Marry praised the President in a press release.

'Once again, President Obama has demonstrated his commitment to fairness and freedom for all Americans, including same-sex couples and their families,' the group said.

'His proposal to ensure equal Social Security benefits would fix a crucial gap in federal protections for same-sex couples. President Obama's leadership in helping bring the freedom to marry to all Americans will be a shining part of this president's legacy. Of course, the only way to ensure same-sex couples nationwide have all the protections of marriage is for the Supreme Court to put the country on the right side of history by ending marriage discrimination throughout the United States, leaving no family and no state behind.'

The proposed change to the Social Security Act would have to pass a Republican-led Congress, however. It is clear that the budget will undergo substantial revision before it is finally passed, and it is too early to tell if the Social Security proposal will make it into the final bill.

In any case, the issue may be resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court when it reviews marriage appeals from the Sixth Circuit Court. If the high court finds that Gay and Lesbian couples have a constitutionally-mandated right to marriage, that would remove state bans on recognition and also the rationale for unequal treatment of same-sex couples.

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