blog home Marriage Rights Gay and Lesbian Couples Face Indefensible Financial Discrimination

Gay and Lesbian Couples Face Indefensible Financial Discrimination

By Jeffrey Knipmeyer on March 12, 2013

Gay and lesbian couples face civil and social discrimination in states where same-sex marriage has not been legalized. According to Suze Orman, personal finance expert and host of “The Suze Orman Show” on CNBC, in a special report to CNN, while that discrimination is inexcusable, the financial discrimination those couples face is indefensible.

Nine states and the District of Columbia have made same-sex marriages legal. And even though that is encouraging for those who believe that all U.S. citizens deserve basic civil rights, what is needed, according to Orman, is for the federal government to recognize same-sex marriage. Orman believes that would eliminate current financial discrimination.

Orman presents two glaring examples of current financial discrimination of gay and lesbian couples:

  • With no federal recognition of same-sex marriage, when one partner dies, the other must pay federal estate tax. When one partner in a heterosexual marriage dies, no federal estate tax would apply, no matter the size of the estate or who died first.
  • Concerning Social Security benefits, heterosexual married couples can take advantage of what is called the highest-earner’s benefit. The lower wage earner of the two can opt to collect a monthly benefit check equal to half of his or her spouse’s. When the higher wage earner dies, the surviving spouse can collect all of his or her deceased’s spouse’s benefits. This benefit is not available to same-sex couples, even if they have been together for 20 years or more, while the benefit is available to heterosexual couples married only a few months.

The U.S. Supreme Court will consider the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act this spring. Orman and others who argue for marriage equality believe the Court should put an end to this discrimination.

The Chicago civil union attorneys of Nottage and Ward have offered legal advice for many years to couples no matter their living arrangement. They have the experience to guide you through the most complex financial matters and have answers to all your family law questions. Call us at (312) 332-2915.

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