Senate Passes Bipartisan Bill That Gives Same-Sex Couples Social Security Benefits

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Thanks to the Senate, same-sex couples are one step closer to receiving  Social Security and veterans benefits. In a vote of 57-43, eleven Republicans joined every Democrat. The amendment, which is attached to a larger funding bill, was sponsored by Hawaii’s Democratic Senator Brian Schatz and was spearheaded by Democratic Senators Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Patty Murray of Washington.

The amendment’s purpose was to “establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund relating to ensuring all legally married same-sex spouses have equal access to the Social Security and veterans benefits they have earned and receive equal treatment under the law pursuant to the Constitution of the United States.”

The measure does not necessarily extend these benefits to same-sex couples in non-marriage equality states because Federal code determines who gets the benefits based on where the couple reside, not what state they were married in.

The eleven Republicans who voted for the amendment were:

Kelly Ayotte (New Hampshire)

Richard Burr (North Carolina)

Shelley Moore Capito (West Virginia)

Susan Collins (Maine)

Bob Corker (Tennessee)

Dean Heller (Nevada)

Ron Johnson (Wisconsin)

Mark Kirk (Illinois)

Lisa Murkowski (Alaska)

Rob Portman (Ohio)

Thom Tillis (North Carolina)

Of the eleven senators who voted for the amendment, four have publicly stated their support for same-sex marriage: Murkowski, Portman, Collins and Kirk.

Schatz issued a statement, saying:

“Gay couples legally married in any state should be entitled to veterans and Social Security benefits identical to any other married couples. Tonight, eleven Republicans joined Democrats in recognizing that gay couples deserve equal treatment, regardless of where they live. We still have work to do to, but this is progress and a win for equal rights. I thank Senator Murray and Senator Shaheen for their leadership on this important issue.”

Shaheen also issued a statement, saying:

“No one who has served in uniform or their family should be denied veterans benefits they’ve earned because of whom they love or where they live. The Senate’s support for ending this discriminatory policy is an encouraging step toward righting this wrong.”

Although these votes are a step in the right direction, they are non-binding, and could be filibustered since it failed to get the 60 votes necessary to override it when it comes time for a final vote. Hopefully the House and Speaker Boehner will agree with the Senate.

 

Reprinted with permission from Addicting Info