Press

DNC Supports Same-Sex Partner Inclusion in Social Security; NGLTF Calls Resolution 'Historic'

Date: 
January 22, 2002

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force hailed a resolution passed today by the Democratic National Committee that called for equal treatment of same-sex partners under Social Security.

"In taking this historic and precedent-setting step, the Democratic National Committee has committed itself to equality for same-sex partners," said Lorri L. Jean, executive director of NGLTF. "Currently, our inability to access survivor benefits costs same-sex surviving partners approximately $100 million a year. We pay into the Social Security system our entire lives, yet in retirement we are denied funds to which we are entitled."

The resolution was passed at the DNC winter meeting in Washington, DC, states simply that "Social Security would be strengthened if same-sex partners were treated equally." The inclusion of same-sex couples in the program was a policy recommendation of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in 2000 when it issued a groundbreaking report on the public policy issues affecting gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) seniors. It has since conducted trainings with the DNC, AARP, and other aging policy organizations, and sponsored a Congressional briefing to push for these changes.

"The tragedy on September 11th demonstrated the inequality of same-sex relationships in vivid detail as the surviving same-sex partners of those who died found themselves unable access the same benefits as heterosexual surviving partners," continued Jean. "This discrimination is wrong. Social Security and other programs need to be broadened to include access for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender families."

There is significant majority support among the American public for equal treatment of same-sex partners and the number of GLBT elders continues to grow. In a 1997 Princeton Survey Research Associates poll, 57 percent of Americans polled supported "equal rights for gays in terms of social security benefits for gay spouses." One to three million elders in the U.S. are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. According to current trends, this population will double by the year 2030.

Also at the meeting, the DNC approved a resolution denouncing hate crimes and racial profiling by calling for immediate action on S. 989, "End Racial Profiling Act of 2001," and S. 625, "Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act" (LLEEA). LLEEA would add gender, sexual orientation, and disability to the federal hate crimes statute and would provide much needed federal assistance to local law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes.

For more information on issues affecting gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender elders, copies of NGLTF’s report Outing Age are available at http://www.ngltf.org/library or by calling 202-332-6483.

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.