It’s a big deal when a court rules or a state passes a law that allows marriage equality in a state. The cameras roll, the happy couples embrace on the courthouse steps, the confetti flies, and of course the wingnuts have their pouts. It is a big deal when fundamental rights are recognized and generations of mistreatment and shaming are put to an end.
The landmark Supreme Court ruling United States v. Windsor in 2013 that overturned the odious Defense of Marriage Act was not about two women getting married. It was about the surviving spouse’s inheritance rights, the same that would accrue had they been an opposite-sex couple. That was the ruling that got us where we are with marriage equality today. It was about more than just getting married; it was about the little things that make up the life that every straight couple takes for granted.
So it’s good to see that while President Obama embraces the idea of marriage equality, he’s also trying to insure that the rest comes along with it.
President Barack Obama’s $4 trillion budget proposal includes a major change to the Social Security Act that would allow same-sex couples to receive spousal benefits even if they live in states that don’t recognize such unions.
Under current law, gay couples who move from one of the 36 states that permit same-sex marriage to one that does not lose the Social Security benefits heterosexual couples enjoy. “Under this proposal, such married couples would have access to these benefits,” according to the budget.
It’s the first time Obama has suggested such a change, though he stated his personal support for gay marriage in 2012. Last year, the president went further, telling the New Yorker’s Jeffery Toobin that he believes the Equal Protection Clause in the U.S. Constitution “does guarantee” same-sex marriage in all 50 states.
It will take an act of Congress to make it happen, but it’s a start.