Press

Task Force Seeks Same-Sex Couples in 5 States to Profile to Show the Cost of Unequal Treatment Under Marriage Laws

Date: 
December 10, 2003

MEDIA CONTACT:
Roberta Sklar, Director of Communications
media@theTaskForce.org
646.358.1465

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute is in search of same-sex couples - preferably in Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Wisconsin or Oregon - who are willing to be profiled for a project that the Policy Institute is developing. The project will highlight the economic costs of not being able to marry.

The first phase of the project will include the states listed above and couples who:

- Own or owned a family farm or small business;
- Have been affected by long-term care and/or Medicaid "spend down" requirements;
- Have been excluded from Social Security or other pension plan benefits;
- Have experienced taxation of domestic partner benefits;
- Have been affected by the "marriage penalty" from filing separate tax returns;
- Have incurred costs securing a second parent adoption; or,
- Have incurred costs attempting to keep one partner in the country (immigration).

Please see below for more specific information.

Small Business or Family Farm

Because lesbians and gay men are denied the right to marry, there are real financial implications for same-sex couples who jointly own a small business or a family farm. Are you part of a same-sex couple or do you know a same-sex couple - preferably in Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Wisconsin or Oregon - who own a small business or a family farm valued at over $1 million? While married couples can transfer their assets to a surviving partner upon death, unmarried same-sex couples are subject to estate taxes and other financial penalties. These can be so high that they threaten a surviving partner's ability to hold onto a farm or small business. If you have experienced this situation or know of a couple who has, we would like to talk to you and discuss the situation for an upcoming project that highlights the costs of not being able to marry in your state. All couples will be considered for the project, even if there is only one surviving partner or if the business/family farm has been sold.

Please contact: Rod Colvin, Research Director - National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute, 212-402-1125 or rcolvin@ngltf.org

Long-term Care and Medicaid Spend Down Requirements

Nursing homes and other long-term care options often penalize same-sex couples. Are you part of a same-sex couple or do you know a same-sex couple - preferably in Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Wisconsin or Oregon - who has been affected by the Medicaid "spend down" requirement? This requirement often forces couples to sell jointly owned assets, including their home, in order to qualify for Medicaid. Married couples are allowed to the keep their homes, but same-sex or gay and lesbian couples don't enjoy this protection. As a result, surviving same-sex partners may lose their home soon after losing their life partners. If you have experienced this situation or know of a couple who has, we would like to talk to you and discuss the situation for an upcoming project that highlights the costs of not being able to marry in your state. All couples will be considered for the project, even if there is only one surviving partner or if the home has already been sold.

Please contact: Rod Colvin, Research Director - National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute, 212-402-1125 or rcolvin@ngltf.org

Social Security and Pension Plans

Are you or do you know a lesbian, gay man, bisexual or transgender person in a same-sex relationship - preferably in Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Wisconsin or Oregon - who has been denied Social Security survivor benefits? More than one in 10 same-sex couples in the 2000 Census include a senior who is over age 65. Nearly two-thirds of these couples have lived together for more than five years. If a partner dies, same-sex couples - unlike their married counterparts - get no Social Security or other retirement plan survivor benefits. If you have experienced this situation or know of a couple who has, we would like to talk to you and discuss the situation for an upcoming project that highlights the costs of not being able to marry in your state. All couples will be considered for the project, even if there is only one surviving partner.

Please contact: Rod Colvin, Research Director - National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute, 212-402-1125 or rcolvin@ngltf.org

Taxation of Domestic Partner Benefits

Are you or do you know a lesbian, gay man, bisexual or transgender person in a same-sex relationship - preferably in Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Wisconsin or Oregon - who is providing health benefits to a same-sex partner through a domestic partnership health coverage? Unlike health benefits provided to married heterosexual couples, domestic partnership benefits are taxed as income. As a result, lesbian, gay, bi or trans people in same-sex relationships take home less income than their married heterosexual co-workers who perform exactly the same job. If you have experienced this situation or know of a couple who has, we would like to talk to you and discuss the situation for an upcoming project that highlights the costs of not being able to marry in your state.

Please contact: Rod Colvin, Research Director - National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute, 212-402-1125 or rcolvin@ngltf.org

The Marriage Bonus

When lesbians and gay men are denied the right to marry, there are real financial implications for the same-sex couples, in which one partner is the primary breadwinner. Are you part of a same-sex couple or do you know a same-sex couple - preferably in Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Wisconsin or Oregon - where one partner earns significantly more than the other partner? Typically, such same-sex couples incur addition tax burdens by not being able to file joint tax returns. Same-sex couples are discriminated against in situations where only one partner earns an income or is the main breadwinner. This is often the case when one member of the couple is at home taking care of a child or unable to work because of a disability. If you have experienced this situation or know of a couple who has, we would like to talk to you and discuss the situation for an upcoming project that highlights the costs of not being able to marry in your state.

Please contact: Rod Colvin, Research Director - National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute, 212-402-1125 or rcolvin@ngltf.org

Second Parent Adoption

Are you a same-sex couple with children? Are you part of a same-sex couple or do you know a same-sex couple - preferably in Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Wisconsin or Oregon - who have tried formalized a second parent adoption of a child? A second-parent adoption extends legal parental rights to the non-biological or non-adoptive parent. This is often a costly procedure, and is only available in only about half of the states. If you have experienced this situation or know of a couple who has, we would like to talk to you and discuss the situation for an upcoming project that highlights the costs of not being able to marry in your state. Please contact: Rod Colvin, Research Director - National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute, 212-402-1125 or rcolvin@ngltf.org

Immigration Policy

Are you part of a same-sex couple or do you know a same-sex couple - preferably in Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Wisconsin or Oregon - in which one partner is a U.S. citizen and other is not? U.S. immigration is largely based on the principle of family unification, which allows U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents to sponsor their spouses (and other family members) for immigration purposes. Same-sex partners of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, however, are not considered spouses and are excluded from family-based immigration rights. Lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people in same-sex relationships often use costly legal mechanisms to keep their partners in the country. These legal approaches require the couple to incur costs that married couples do not incur. If you have experienced this situation or know of a couple who has, we would like to talk to you and discuss the situation for an upcoming project that highlights the costs of not being able to marry in your state.

Please contact: Rod Colvin, Research Director - National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute, 212-402-1125 or rcolvin@ngltf.org

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute is a think tank dedicated to research, policy analysis, strategy development and coalition building to advance equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

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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.