Why Marriage Matters to Senior Citizens

Over the next 30 years, the 65 and over population is expected to double from 40.2 million to 80 million. Estimates indicate that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals will comprise 7 to 10 percent of that senior population. As this community grows, in both population and visibility, the disproportionate discrimination faced by senior citizens denied the freedom to marry becomes harder to ignore. Beyond state benefits that fall under the status of marriage, federal benefits usually afforded to aging couples, such as Social Security payments, retirement allowance, and tax-free inheritance rights are all continually denied to loving and committed same-sex senior citizen couples. The need to end the unfair exclusion from marriage is especially dire for these couples that deserve to enjoy their golden years with the peace and security they spent a lifetime earning.

"When a gay, lesbian or bisexual senior dies, his or her surviving partner faces a financial loss that can amount to tens of thousands of dollars because the couple cannot be recognized as legally married in the United States. Despite having paid taxes their whole lifetime at the same rate as other Americans, surviving partners are: denied the Social Security survivor benefits that are made available to all married couples; heavily taxed on any retirement plan — 401(k) or IRA — they inherit from their partners, although married spouses can inherit these plans tax-free; and charged an estate tax on the inheritance of a home, even if it was jointly owned — a tax that would not apply to married spouses."

— Lisa Bennet and Gary J. Gates, The Cost of Marriage Inequality to Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Seniors, Human Rights Campaign 2004.

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Resources Related to Senior Citizens

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Outing Age 2010

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