Three events are coming up for the Know Your Rights Initiative, an important education program for same-sex married couples regarding access to enhanced Social Security benefits.
Marriage Equality USA is co-sponsoring three Town Halls in Northern California in April 2015 and we want to make sure you have the opportunity to get these events on your calendars.
LGBTQ elders and their families will be provided with extensive education regarding benefits available to many same-sex couples since the historic 2013 United States Supreme Court Windsor decision, through the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare Foundation’s Know Your Rights Initiative funded by a grant from The California Wellness Foundation (Cal Wellness).
Please click the links below for detailed flyers:
Oakland Town Hall
When: Tuesday, April 7th, 2015
Time: 6:00–6:30pm: Complimentary reception with light refreshments
6:30–8:00pm: Panel discussion
Where: First Congregational Church of Oakland, 2501 Harrison Street, Oakland, CA 94612
San Jose Town Hall
When: Wednesday, April 8th, 2015
Time: 6:30–7:00pm: Complimentary reception with light refreshments
7:00–8:30pm: Panel discussion
Where: Roosevelt Community Center, 901 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose, CA 95116
Sacramento Town Hall
When: Thursday, April 9th, 2015
Time: 6:30–7:00pm: Complimentary reception with light refreshments
7:00–8:30pm: Panel discussion
Where: Pioneer United Church of Christ, 2700 L Street, Sacramento, CA 95816
Know Your Rights Initiative on Facebook
Or, if you prefer not to leave the comfort of your home, a free webinar is available:
Free Know Your Rights Webinar
When: Thursday, April 9th, 2015
Time: 7:00pm PDT
Where: Online, register now!
US Attorney General Eric Holder has announced that the US government will now recognize same sex marriages as equal to heterosexual marriages in all federal matters. That means they will be treated just the same in bankruptcy court proceedings, visitation privileges for inmates of federal prisons and in federal survivor benefits.
Note: I am not an attorney or a qualified tax expert. No action should be taken based solely on the content of these memos. However I hope the memos will help you ask the right questions of people who are qualified in these issues.
Same sex married couples will now be able to jointly file for bankruptcy. This ensures alimony and domestic support debts aren't discharged in bankruptcy cases. And, if they do file for bankruptcy and were married in a state which allows same sex marriage, such as California, their bankruptcy will be valid all across the nation, even in states that do not recognize same sex marriage.
Also, from now on, people in same sex marriages will have to right to refuse to testify against their spouses in civil and criminal cases heard in federal court, even when the court proceedings occur in states that do not recognize same sex marriage. And the same sex spouses of all law enforcement officers and firefighters will be entitled to benefits in the event of death or severe injury in the line of duty.
Federal prison inmates, who are married to people of the same sex, will have the same rights as inmates who are in heterosexual marriages. For example, their spouses will be allowed to visit them in prison, federal prisoners will be allowed to take escorted trips to attend the funerals of their spouses or to deal with crises being faced by their spouses, to engage in correspondence with their spouses, and to obtain compassionate release, or reduction of their sentence, to care for a disabled spouse who is not in prison.
The Attorney General’s order also covers some lesser known programs such as the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) Program . During the cold war era with the Soviet Union, the United the United States carried out numerous atomic bomb tests. In order to do these tests people mined uranium and others processed that uranium to prepare it for use in that program. Some of them got sick and died from exposure to the uranium.
Congress passed the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act to provide monetary compensation to those who got sick from the radiation. The act also provides compensation to the spouses of people who died from that radiation. Now those spousal benefits will be available to the same sex spouses of those who died.
Attorney General Holder also stated that same sex spouses would be eligible for spousal compensation from the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund.
It is important to note that the US Attorney General has little or no authority over state courts and programs. It is possible, for example, that a state court in Georgia might compel the same sex spouse of a defendant to testify against his or her spouse in state court, even if they married in a state where same sex marriages are recognized.
None-the-less, Attorney General Holder’s announcement is another major step in the march to full and equal rights for LGBT people.
Authored by Boyce Hinman, founder and director of the California Communities United Institute, and member of Marriage Equality USA. Hinman has been writing and posting a series, "Monday Morning Marriage Memo," as part of his Anatomy for Justice blog. This article was first published there, and is republished here with the author’s permission. Hinman resides in and serves California, therefore the posts sometimes have a California slant. NOTE: Marriage Equality USA is not a legal firm or a tax/accounting firm. No action should be taken based solely on the content of our news blog or website.
- College tuition and fee payments paid to the school on the student’s behalf.
- A monthly housing allowance.
- A books and supplies stipend of up to $1,000 per year.
Policy & Legal UpdatesSeptember 30 - October 6, 2013
On 27 September 2013, Public Religion Research Institute surveyed 1,563 Hispanic Americans from a representative sample of U.S. adults regarding same-gender civil marriage, and reported that 55% favor it, 43% do not, with 2% unaccounted for. Also, regarding candidate preferences, likely Hispanic voters prefer Democrats 58%, Republicans 28%, and others 12%, with 2% unaccounted for. • Survey Details
On 4 October 2013, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,776 American adults on same-gender civil marriage, and reported that among registered voters, 57% support it, 36% do not, and 6% do not know or give no answer. Among Roman Catholics (where no clergy support same-gender civil marriage at all), 60% of churchgoers support it, 31% don't, and 9% do not know or give no answer. • Survey Details
On 30 September 2013, U.S. Representative Adam Smith (D- Washington) and Senator Carl Levin (D-Michigan), the top Democrats on the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, told the U.S. Department of Defense to ensure that military spouse benefits are issued to all armed forces personnel in same-gender civil marriages, including states which have denied some benefits applications, such as IN, LA, MS, OK, SC, and TX. • MEUSA Summary • Survey Details
MEUSA Summary • News Source PENNSYLVANIA • On 1 October 2013, in Pennsylvania Health Department v. Montgomery County Court Clerk Bruce Hanes, the county appealed to the PA Supreme Court a lower court ruling that halted the issuance of same-gender civil marriage licenses after 174 licenses were issued. • MEUSA Summary • News Source PENNSYLVANIA • On 26 September 2013, in Cara Palladino & Isabelle Barker v. PA Governor Corbett et al., a couple filed a federal suit to force PA to recognize their 2005 MA marriage. The Equality Forum suit raises two new federal constitutional questions: whether states must respect laws from other states, and whether citizens can travel between states without losing rights. • MEUSA Summary • News Source WEST VIRGINIA • On 1 October 2013, in Casie Jo McGee, et al. v. Cabell County Clerk Karen Cole, et al., Fairness WV and Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit for three couples challenging the state law that bans marriage equality. • MEUSA Summary • News Source NEW JERSEY • On 30 September 2013, in Garden State Equality, et al. v. NJ Attorney General Paula Dow, et al., Lambertville, NJ mayor David DelVecchio committed to performing NJ’s first same-gender civil marriage as soon as the ruling goes into effect on 21 October 2013. • MEUSA Summary • News Source NEW JERSEY • On 1 October 2013, in Garden State Equality, et al. v. NJ Attorney General Paula Dow, et al., NJ Acting Attorney General John Hoffman appealed directly to the NJ Supreme Court (bypassing the NJ appeals court), and asked for expedited review. Hoffman also asked the Superior Court to delay implementation of its ruling until after the Supreme Court review, which Lambda Legal opposes. • MEUSA Summary • News Source VIRGINIA • On 30 September 2013, in Joanne Harris, et al. v. Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell et al., the ACLU, ACLU Virginia, and Lambda Legal filed a federal class action lawsuit for two couples seeking full marriage equality for all VA residents, including couples married elsewhere. On 30 September 2013, ACLU and Lambda Legal asked for a summary judgment. • MEUSA Summary • News Source KENTUCKY • On 1 October 2013, in Gregory Bourke & Michael Deleon v. Kentucky, KY Attorney General Clay Barkley asked a federal court to dismiss the case, claiming that the plaintiffs have no standing to bring this lawsuit. • MEUSA Summary • News Source TEXAS • On 9 September 2013, 16 TX state representatives told the TX Military Forces to: (1) stop denying equal pay and benefits to all same-gender married military couples at all TX National Guard facilities, (2) stop denying membership in family readiness groups, and (3) stop denying participation in marriage enrichment retreats. • MEUSA Summary • News Source TEXAS • On 13 September 2013, in Alicia Butler & Judith Chedville vs. Texas, Lambda Legal told the TX Military Forces that since 3 September 2013 it has been unlawful to deny equal federal pay and benefits to any same-gender married military couple, and the TX ban on same-gender civil marriage does not exempt TX from compliance. Chedville is an Army nurse and Iraq war veteran, and a 1st Lieutenant in the Army National Guard. • MEUSA Summary • News Source VIRGINIA • On 18 July 2013, in Timothy Bostic, et al. vs. VA State Registrar Janet Rainey, et al., a gay couple filed a federal lawsuit challenging VA’s 2006 ban on same-gender marriage, joined by a lesbian couple seeking to have their 2008 CA marriage recognized in VA. On 30 September 2013, AFER (American Foundation for Equal Rights), the sole sponsor of the lawsuit which defeated CA Proposition 8, joined this lawsuit to win full federal marriage equality nationwide. • MEUSA Summary • News Source VIRGINIA • On 3 October 2013, in Timothy Bostic, et al. vs. VA State Registrar Janet Rainey, et al., VA Attorney General (and candidate for governor) Ken Cucinelli filed a brief in federal court arguing that same-gender civil marriage should be banned because: (1) some religious beliefs from the 1500s also ban it; (2) some dictionaries still describe marriage as only between mixed-gender couples; and (3) some mixed-gender couples procreate. • MEUSA Summary • News Source NEW JERSEY • On 4 October 2013, in Garden State Equality, et al. v. NJ Attorney General Paula Dow, et al., plaintiffs told the court that NJ has failed to prove it risks any irreparable harm if it issues licenses, and has failed to prove that it is likely to win its appeal, and therefore asked the court to not delay the implementation of its ruling. • MEUSA Summary • News Source
MEUSA Summary • News Source PENNSYLVANIA • On 3 October 2013, state Representative Brian Sims (D) introduced House Bill 1686, the Pennsylvania Marriage Equality Act, to legalize same-gender civil marriage. The bill is supported by 32 lawmakers (31 Democrats, 1 Republican). • MEUSA Summary • News Source NEW JERSEY • On 2 October 2013, Assemblyman Chris Brown (R) reversed his 2012 vote, and now supports marriage equality. To override the governor’s 2012 veto by mid-January 2014, only 10 more lawmakers are needed (3 Senators to reach 27 out of 40 and 7 Assemblymen to reach 54 out of 80). • MEUSA Summary • News Source
MEUSA Summary • News Source OREGON • On 4 October 2013, the Oregon Business Association, which represents over 300 businesses, endorsed the Freedom-to-Marry & Religious Protection Initiative, following the Portland Business Alliance. Volunteers have collected over 90,000 signatures toward placing the issue on the November 2014 ballot. • MEUSA Summary • News Source
Send questions and comments to: NFlaherty@MarriageEquality.org.