LA rally launches national campaign for Social Security fairness
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Chanting and carrying signs, a crowd of more than 700 people rallied at the LA Gay & Lesbian Center Sunday and then and marched more than a mile to the Social Security Administration office in Hollywood today to call for end to the discrimination that deprives older LGBT taxpayers of hundreds of millions in Social Security benefits every year, Associated Press reports.
“I don't think it’s right that Americans should be treated differently by the country they love because of who they love,” Rep. Linda T Sanchez (D-Lakewood) told the enthusiastic crowd, Los Angeles Times reports.
Sanchez said she will author legislation that would extend benefits to older gay and lesbian couples. US Rep. Judy Chu offered to co-author the bill. US Sen. Barbara Boxer and local officials also spoke at the rally.
“Right now, same-sex marriage couples pay equally into a system that they don’t receive equal benefits from in return,” Sanchez told the crowd. “Shame on this country for allowing that to happen.”
“We now have quality, affordable health care coming to all,” Sanchez said. “What good is the quality of our health care in America if Americans are not treated equally under all of our laws?”
Chu told the crowd that since it was signed into law in 1935 by President Franklin D Roosevelt, Social Security has slowly been expanded to more equally cover all Americans.
“And, in the year 2010, that will be the year people from the LGBT community will be added,” she told the cheering crowd, which included young, middle-aged, and old people.
The rally and march—dubbed Rock for Equality—was put together by the center and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in conjunction with the Aids Community Action Foundation, said Jim Key, a spokesman for the center.
“This was the kickoff for a national campaign to end discrimination when it comes to Social Security,” said Lorri L. Jean, CEO of the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center. “We not only have to educate the straight community, but we have to educate our own. Many don't know how it works until they're older and faced with having been denied benefits.”
Rock for Equality points out on its website:
The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law has determined that, on average, the lack of eligibility for Social Security Survivors Benefits has cost the surviving partners of same-sex couples $5,700 per year. LGBT Americans are denied other benefits as well. With more than one million Americans living in same-sex couples, and an aging generation of Baby Boomers, hundreds of thousands of taxpayers are cheated by this unfair system every day. This discrimination is estimated to have cost the LGBT community more than$2 billion in the last decade alone.
Two major reports on LGBT seniors were released last month during a national conference aging.
According to one of the reports which was prepared by an LGBT advocacy group and endorsed by major aging groups, LGBT senior citizens face a multitude of social and financial problems. However the group Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders, or SAGE, says the the greatest hurdle may be the inequity of Social Security.
Pacifica’s Uprising Radio interviewed LGBT seniors last week who explained the difficult situation that couples have experienced because of benefits inequality.