Lambda Legal sues Social Security Administration for third same-sex widower denied survivor’s benefits

LAS CRUCES, N.M. – Lambda Legal today filed a motion on behalf of a 63-year-old gay man arguing that the Social Security Administration’s denial of spousal survivor’s benefits to him, on the grounds that he was not married for long enough despite marrying on the very first day when he was allowed to do so, is unconstitutional.  The lawsuit filed on behalf of Anthony Gonzales, who was in a 15-year committed relationship with his husband, in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico argues that SSA’s imposition of a nine-month marriage requirement for social security survivor’s benefits is unconstitutional where same-sex couples were not able to be married for nine months because of discriminatory marriage laws. “Over the past three months, we have filed lawsuits against the Social Security Administration in three different states – Washington, Arizona and, today, New Mexico – all underscoring the ongoing harm that a number of same-sex couples continue to experience from marriage bans, despite those laws having been struck down,” said Lambda Legal Counsel Peter Renn. “Anthony and his husband, Mark Johnson, got married literally on the very first day they could in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which was August 27, 2013. Tragically, cancer claimed Mark’s life six months later. Because they were not married for nine months, as Social Security requires, Anthony was denied access to the survivor’s benefits to which Mark contributed.