Nadler to Announce Equal Access to Social Security Act

Jun 22, 2004

Washington, DC -- Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, on Thursday will introduce legislation that would amend the Social Security Act to allow same-sex couples to have the same benefits, responsibilities, and obligations as others who pay into Social Security. Nadler will introduce the bill, entitled the "Equal Access to Social Security Act (EASSA)," during a Constitution Subcommittee hearing on the Federal Marriage Amendment.

"Same-sex couples are denied more than 1000 federal benefits. Today, I am taking action to address this problem, by introducing legislation to allow same-sex couples to access the same benefits as everyone else who pays Social Security taxes. Is this a perfect solution? No. Obviously, the only way same-sex couples will be treated equally is when they are allowed to marry, but this bill does not confront that question. This is merely an attempt to make the federal law more fair when it comes to the GLBT community," said Nadler.

"Some conservatives don't want gay and lesbians to have any rights. Others say that they just don't want same-sex couples to be married, but don't mind if they have the same benefits as married couples. Well, if they really believe that, here is their chance to prove it. I am asking all Members of Congress to sponsor my bill to grant social security benefits to same-sex couples. I think same-sex couples and their children deserve the same Social Security benefits as anyone else," said Nadler.

Nadler's legislation would add the term "or permanent partner" to the Social Security Act in addition to the terms husband and wife that are already present in the legal code. The bill does not authorize same-sex couples to get married, but provides them with some of the benefits and obligations married couples have. As a result, the children of same-sex couples will be able to collect survivor benefits should one of their parents die, just like children of federally recognized married couples.

Nadler's bill also addresses the difficulty elderly persons have in maintaining the family home or the same standard of living after the loss of income when a loved one dies. The legislation would ensure that elderly same-sex couples are afforded the critical financial support offered by Social Security that heterosexual couples get when one partner dies.

"This legislation is about equality and ending unfair discrimination of American families," said Nadler. "Social Security benefits should be provided to those who pay into it, whether or not they are in a same-sex relationship. There is no reason why same-sex couples should be denied the benefits that couples in federally recognized marriages receive," said Nadler.