March 6, 2015

The Honorable Patty Murray
154 Russell Senate Office Building
United States Senate 
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Tammy Baldwin
717 Hart Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senators Murray and Baldwin:

On behalf of the millions of members and supporters of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, I am writing in support of the “Social Security and Marriage Equality Act of 2015” (The SAME Act). The National Committee applauds your efforts to ensure that all married individuals, regardless of where they live, receive equal treatment under the Social Security program when they apply for spousal benefits.

Since the Supreme Court handed down its decision in United States v. Windsor which overturned section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, the Federal government has established a standard for determining the validity of same-sex marriages. Under this standard, a marriage is recognized as valid based on the laws of the jurisdiction in which it was celebrated, rather than the laws of the jurisdiction in which the married couple resides at the time they apply for benefits; or in survivorship cases, the jurisdiction in which the worker resided at the time of death.

Although the “place of celebration” standard has been applied to a broad array of Federal programs, it has not yet been applied to Social Security. Instead, claims for spousal benefits filed by individuals living in non-recognition jurisdictions, or when the worker died in such a jurisdiction, have been denied.

While we believe, as you do, that the Social Security Administration can and should resolve the inconsistencies of state laws through administrative actions, we support enactment of the SAME Act because the civil rights of same sex couples have been denied far too long. Justice delayed for LGBT families who live in states that do not recognize same sex marriage is justice denied. It is time to remove one of the key remaining barriers to marriage equality by making all couples and their children fully eligible to receive retirement, disability, survivor and spousal Social Security benefits regardless of where they live and who they love.

We look forward to working with you to secure the passage of the “Social Security and Marriage Equality Act” and thank you for your leadership on this important issue.


Max Richtman
 President and CEO