Rights For LGBTQ Individuals Continue To Advance
On Monday December 23, 2013, a federal judge in Ohio ruled that the state must recognize gay marriages by identifying the surviving spouse on a death certificate. The ruling was based on two lawsuits filed in July 2013 by two surviving gay spouses. Ohio does not recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Windsor that same sex married couples are entitled to receive all federal rights, the states continued to have authority to decide whether to legalize same-sex marriage and whether to recognize same-sex marriage performed in another state.
One of the benefits to the Ohio same-sex surviving spouses being identified on the death certificate is the potential entitlement to social security spousal survivor benefits (as well as the one-time payment for funeral expenses). Currently, the Social Security Administration is accepting but not processing applications for same-sex spousal survivor benefits filed in non-recognition states. We are waiting for SSA and the Department of Justice to announce whether social security benefits for same-sex spouses, and their surviving children, will be based upon place of celebration or, domicile.
Last week the highest court in New Mexico issued its ruling ending the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. A court in Utah refused to put a stay on same-sex marriages being performed while there is an appeal being taken on the marriage ban. These decisions may mark the beginning of a new wave of federal decisions holding that state laws that ban same-sex marriages violate the federal constitution which guarantees Americans the right to equality and non-discrimination. Click here to read more about these recent developments.
Note: Although the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to hold off on Utah decision, a memo from the Department of Justice said to recognize couples rights to federal benefits for marriages performed in Utah to date.
To ensure your domestic partner or same sex spouse and you are protected and your legal planning wishes are honored, do register as a domestic partner where available and meet with a qualified elder law attorney and create a plan that will make the aging process easier for you and provide for the comfort and care of your loved ones. Our firm is here to guide you.
We want to be your trusted planning advisor through life.℠