Lambda Legal sues Social Security Administration for fourth same-sex surviving spouse denied survivor’s benefits

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Lambda Legal on Thurday filed a motion on behalf of a 75-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 discriminatory marriage laws that prevented him from marrying earlier, is unconstitutional. The lawsuit filed on behalf of Frederick Colosimo, who was in a 43-year committed relationship with his husband, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, 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. “Yet again, we go to court to get justice for same-sex spouses and partners who are unable to access Social Security survivor benefits because discriminatory marriage bans prevented them from marrying, and being married long enough, to meet Social Security’s nine-month requirement,” said Lambda Legal Counsel Tara Borelli. “Even though the bans have been struck down and same-sex couples today are able to marry nationwide, the harms endure. Fred and his husband, Harvey Lucas, traveled from North Carolina to New Jersey in November 2013 to get married – two weeks after that state’s ban was struck down, because North Carolina would not let them marry.

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.