All Rights for All: 1138 Reasons It’s Still Relevant in the United States


In 2004, the Government Accounting Office identified 1,138 federal laws in which marital status is a factor in determining or receiving benefits, rights, and privileges.

  • #0047: Joint Taxes

    LGBT couples cannot file taxes jointly; as a result, taxes for a LGBT couple can be significantly higher.

  • #0221: Hospital Visitation

    LGBT couples have no legal right to visit a spouse in the hospital and can be barred from entering the room by medical personnel.

  • #0497: Estate Taxes

    LGBT couples cannot pass their estate to a spouse tax-free, which creates a huge tax burden that can result in the loss of a spouse’s home or business.

  • #0544: Job Security

    In a majority of states, employees can be fired just for being gay, which can put a huge burden on any family’s financial security.

  • #0608: Immigration

    LGBT are denied special consideration for the immigration of a spouse, often resulting in a painful seperation when a loved one is from a foreign country.

  • #0812: Property Taxes

    LGBT must pay property tax when transferring property between spouses.

  • #0904: Social Security

    LGBT are not eligible to receive a spouse’s Social Security pension or many other government benefits.

  • #0945: Medical Decisions

    During a medical crisis, LGBT couples have no legal authority to make critical treatment decisions for their loved one.

  • #1121: Domestic Violence

    LGBT cannot ask for or receive domestic violence protection orders.

Read the Full GAO Reports

1138 Reasons Equality Matters

The following is a review of a 1997 and 2004 government report that outlined the specific benefits afforded married couples in the United States. These are benefits and rights denied gay and lesbian couples.

Right to many of ex- or late spouse’s benefits, including:

Social Security pension
— veteran’s pensions, indemnity compensation for service-connected deaths, medical care, and nursing home care, right to burial in veterans‘ cemeteries, educational assistance, and housing
survivor benefits for federal employees
— survivor benefits for spouses of longshoremen, harbor workers, railroad workers
— additional benefits to spouses of coal miners who die of black lung disease
— $100,000 to spouse of any public safety officer killed in the line of duty
— continuation of employer-sponsored health benefits
— renewal and termination rights to spouse’s copyrights on death of spouse
— continued water rights of spouse in some circumstances
— payment of wages and workers compensation benefits after worker death
— making, revoking, and objecting to post-mortem anatomical gifts

Right to benefits while married:

— employment assistance and transitional services for spouses of members being separated from military service; continued commissary privileges
— per diem payment to spouse for federal civil service employees when relocating
Indian Health Service care for spouses of Native Americans (in some circumstances)
— sponsor husband/wife for immigration benefits

Larger benefits under some programs if married, including:

— veteran’s disability
Supplemental Security Income
— disability payments for federal employees
property tax exemption for homes of totally disabled veterans
income tax deductions, credits, rates exemption, and estimates

Joint and family-related rights:

— joint filing of bankruptcy permitted
— joint parenting rights, such as access to children’s school records
— family visitation rights for the spouse and non-biological children, such as to visit a spouse in a hospital or prison
— next-of-kin status for emergency medical decisions or filing wrongful death claims
— custodial rights to children, shared property, child support, and alimony after divorce
— domestic violence intervention
— access to “family only” services, such as reduced rate memberships to clubs & organizations or residency in certain neighborhoods
— Preferential hiring for spouses of veterans in government jobs
— Tax-free transfer of property between spouses (including on death) and exemption from “due-on-sale” clauses.
— Special consideration to spouses of citizens and resident aliens
— Spouse’s flower sales count towards meeting the eligibility for Fresh Cut Flowers and Fresh Cut Greens Promotion and Information Act
— Threats against spouses of various federal employees is a federal crime
— Right to continue living on land purchased from spouse by National Park Service when easement granted to spouse
— Court notice of probate proceedings
Domestic violence protection orders
Existing homestead lease continuation of rights
— Regulation of condominium sales to owner-occupants exemption
Funeral and bereavement leave
— Joint adoption and foster care
— Joint tax filing
Insurance licenses, coverage, eligibility, and benefits organization of mutual benefits society
— Legal status with stepchildren
— Making spousal medical decisions
— Spousal non-resident tuition deferential waiver
— Permission to make funeral arrangements for a deceased spouse, including burial or cremation
— Right of survivorship of custodial trust
— Right to change surname upon marriage
— Right to enter into prenuptial agreement
— Right to inheritance of property
Spousal privilege in court cases (the marital confidences privilege and the spousal testimonial privilege)

Spousal income and assets are counted in determining need in many forms of government assistance, including:

— veteran’s medical and home care benefits
— housing assistance
— happy birthday housing loans for veterans
— child’s education loans
— educational loan repayment schedule
— agricultural price supports and loans
— eligibility for federal matching campaign funds
— Ineligible for National Affordable Housing program if spouse ever purchased a home:
— Subject to conflict-of-interest rules for many government and government-related jobs
— Ineligible to receive various survivor benefits upon remarriage

There are some laws that either benefit or penalize married couples over single people, depending upon their own circumstances:

Marriage penalty/bonus
— Someone working for their spouse cannot be defined as an “employee”
— Someone cannot change beneficiaries in a retirement plan or from waiving the joint and survivor annuity form of retirement benefit, without the written consent of his or her spouse
— Wages can be garnished at a maximum of 60% (instead of the normal 25% limit) if the garnishing is for alimony or child support

Get Local

The following organizations are helping fight for gay marriage in states across the country:
AZ: Equality Arizona
CA: Equality California
DC: DC For Marriage
KY: Kentucky Equality Federation
MD: Equality Maryland
ME: Equality Maine
MA: Mass Equality
MN: Project 515
NJ: Garden State Equality
NY: Empire State Pride Agenda
TN: Tennessee Equality Project
UT: Equality Utah
VT: Vermont Freedom to Marry
VA: Equality Virginia
WA: Equality Rights Washington
WI: Fair Wisconsin

This entry was posted in Activism, Children, Education, Family, Gender, Health, Immigration, LGBTQQAI, Same-Sex Marriage, United States. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s