Why Marriage Matters to Senior Citizens
Over the next 30 years, the 65 and over population is expected to double from 40.2 million to 80 million. Estimates indicate that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals will comprise 7 to 10 percent of that senior population. As this community grows, in both population and visibility, the disproportionate discrimination faced by senior citizens denied the freedom to marry becomes harder to ignore. Beyond state benefits that fall under the status of marriage, federal benefits usually afforded to aging couples, such as Social Security payments, retirement allowance, and tax-free inheritance rights are all continually denied to loving and committed same-sex senior citizen couples. The need to end the unfair exclusion from marriage is especially dire for these couples that deserve to enjoy their golden years with the peace and security they spent a lifetime earning.
"When a gay, lesbian or bisexual senior dies, his or her surviving partner faces a financial loss that can amount to tens of thousands of dollars because the couple cannot be recognized as legally married in the United States. Despite having paid taxes their whole lifetime at the same rate as other Americans, surviving partners are: denied the Social Security survivor benefits that are made available to all married couples; heavily taxed on any retirement plan — 401(k) or IRA — they inherit from their partners, although married spouses can inherit these plans tax-free; and charged an estate tax on the inheritance of a home, even if it was jointly owned — a tax that would not apply to married spouses."
— Lisa Bennet and Gary J. Gates, The Cost of Marriage Inequality to Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Seniors, Human Rights Campaign 2004.
Blog Posts Related to Senior Citizens
On Wednesday, two women who have been together for over 40 years applied for a marriage license in North Carolina, seeking to have their lifelong commitment respected by their home state.
Watch this moving video and check out the heart-warming story of William Warren and Renard Latour, who married at a hospital in Delhi, NY after nearly four decades of love and commitment.
This morning at the National Press Club, Freedom to Marry and SAGE hosted a panel on how the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits federal respect for legal marriages between same-sex couples, uniquely and dramatically affects older same-sex couples.
Resources Related to Senior Citizens
A memo on the unique needs of LGBT older adults and the policy and regulatory changes needed to address them.
Extensive report from SAGE, with forward by AARP
A detailed report and policy recommendations on the issues facing LGBT seniors.