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Bill proposed to extend Social Security benefits to couples in civil unions, domestic partnerships

The Social Security Equality Act of 2013, proposed by Representative Linda Sanchez (D-CA), would require the Social Security Administration to provide benefits (spousal, survivor, and death) to same-sex couples in states where such relationships are recognized.

Sanchez stated:  “It is time for our government to stop telling gay and lesbian couples that they are second class citizens.  Same-sex couples pay into Social Security over the course of their working lives just like other Americans.  They should receive the full benefits they have earned.  My bill will make sure every American receives a benefit based upon their contribution to Social Security, not their sexual orientation.”

The bill applies not only to couples legally married in a jurisdiction, but also to couples living in civil unions or some form of legally-recognized domestic partnership in states that recognize such relationships.  Some believe that the Supreme Court’s ruling on the so-called Defense of Marriage Act will require the Social Security Administration to provide benefits to same-sex married couples, but no guidance has been issued in this regard as of yet, nor would the ruling apply to other recognized relationships in states that ban marriage.

The bill, H.R. 3050, was introduced with 109 original cosponsors.  It has been referred to the House Ways and Means Committee.

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