Achieving LGBT Equality Through Litigation, Legislation, Policy, and Public Education

Press Release

Federal Legislation & Policy

NCLR Urges Obama Administration and Courts to Assure Equal Benefits for All Same-Sex Spouses

(San Francisco, CA, June 20, 2014)—Today, the federal Department of Justice issued a summary of its efforts in the past year to implement United States v. Windsor, the June 26, 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which denied all federal benefits and protections to same-sex spouses. In the past year, the Department of Justice has led President Obama’s initiative to implement the Windsor decision across every federal agency, leading to federal recognition of same-sex spouses in virtually every federal program and agency. In today’s report, the Department of Justice announced that legally married same-sex spouses who live in states that do not recognize their marriages will be excluded from most Social Security and Veteran’s Administration benefits.

Statement by NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell, Esq.:

“In the past year, the Department of Justice has moved aggressively and diligently to implement the Supreme Court’s decision in Windsor and to provide equal treatment to married same-sex couples under federal law. We are grateful to President Obama for his unparalleled leadership and support of full equality for LGBT people. Thanks to those efforts, same-sex couples and their children now enjoy an unprecedented degree of protection and security under federal law. At the same time, today’s announcement that same-sex spouses in states that refuse to respect their marriages will be denied the social security benefits they have paid for and earned, and that LGBT veterans who have served this country will be treated as second-class citizens, underscores how far we have yet to go to achieve true equality. We call on the administration to redouble its efforts to stand up for these families and to support litigation to challenge discriminatory and unconstitutional state laws that exclude same-sex couples and their children from the protections of marriage. This is one country, and every American who pays into the Social Security system or who serves in our nation’s armed forces should be treated with equal dignity and respect. We call on President Obama to amplify his support for full equality and to stand with same-sex couples who are challenging discriminatory marriage bans across the nation, from Utah to Michigan to Tennessee.”

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