“Every single American – gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, transgender – every single American deserves to be treated equally in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of our society. It’s a pretty simple proposition,” said President Barak Obama at the Human Rights Campaign national dinner in 2011. Seated in the audience were a number of Black gay men, including LZ Granderson, senior writer for ESPN magazine; Alvin McEwen, contributor to The Huffington Post; Justin Stewart, producer for WJLA-ABC 7 News; and Michael Crawford, Digital Director of the Freedom to Marry campaign. Some of them applauded, while others choose not to after the president’s statement. Even though, they all were concerned about the possibility of marriage for all, none of them thought they’d see it during their lifetime.
In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry. The unprecedented decision was a period at the end of a forty-six year old sentence, which started when patrons at a gay bar rallied after a police raid.
So what does the ruling mean for Black gay men?
Same-sex couples can now apply for veteran’s benefits and Social Security. The Social Security Administration issued a statement encouraging “spouses, divorced spouses, or surviving spouses of a same-sex marriage or non-marital legal same-sex relationship” to apply for benefits right away.
According to Kathleen Michon, a lawyer, “ a surviving spouse of a worker entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits may be entitled to receive retirement benefits based on the deceased spouse’s earning record.”
Michon added, “for retired married couples, a person whose calculated Social Security benefit is lower than that of his or her spouse may take half of his or her spouse’s higher benefit, rather than receive the amount calculated from his own earnings.”
Other benefits that same-sex couples can benefit from include: tax benefits, estate tax and estate planning, immigration benefits, education benefits, and federal employment benefits. Continue reading