A new bill would allow the Social Security Administration to grant equal rights on benefits to legally married same-sex couples.
A pair of Democratic senators, Patty Murray of Washington and Mark Udall of Colorado, introduced the bill this week. As it stands now, legal same-sex spouses who live in states that do not recognize marriage equality see their applications for Social Security benefits being placed on hold.
“The current delay of survivor benefits claims by the Social Security Administration not only places an unfair economic burden on legally married same-sex couples, but an extremely emotional one as well,” Murray said Thursday in a statement.
The Social Security and Marriage Equality (SAME) Act would make any couple eligible for survivor benefits, regardless of where they live – even if it’s in a state that doesn’t recognize marriage equality.
“Your zip code should not determine whether or not your family will have the means to survive after the death of a spouse,” Murray continued in the statement. “While I believe the Social Security Administration can, and should, resolve this inconsistency through administrative action, the SAME Act would provide a roadmap to ensure equality under our federal laws do not end at state lines.”
Last year, the Supreme Court dismantled the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), sending ripple effects throughout the legal system that impact how the U.S. legally recognizes same-sex couples. Gay marriage is now legal in 17 states plus the District of Columbia – and more are expected to follow.
“Marriages don’t end when couples cross state lines, and neither should the federal benefits they have earned,” Udall said in a statement. “Whether it’s veterans’ home loans or spousal survivor benefits, I won’t rest until the federal government treats all marriages equally.”