Partners Task Force for Gay & Lesbian Couples
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Marriage: What’s it to ya?
Here’s what money you lose when you can’t be legally married!
© April 7, 2005, Demian


When same-sex couples are excluded from the benefits provided married opposite-sex partners, it hurts more than our feelings. It’s a pain in the bank account as well.


Example 1 - Salary

In its 1989 report “Gay in America” the San Francisco Examiner calculated exactly what it would cost a 50-year-old worker earning $40,000 per year at the newspaper.


The green bars in the above chart indicate the value of benefits provided to the partners of gay
and lesbian employees at the San Francisco Examiner in 1989. That is to say, there were none.

Salary Breakdown:

  • Health Insurance
    Spouse gets employer-provided group health coverage worth about $250/month.
    Partner gets nothing.
  • Dental Insurance
    Spouse gets coverage worth $42.27/month.
    Partner zero.
  • Vision
    Spouse gets eyeglasses and contacts under vision plan worth $6.34/month.
    Partner gets none.
  • Life Insurance
    The employer provides a $5,000 life insurance plan.
    Spouse gets the benefit automatically if the employee dies.
    Partner gets benefit only if he is named as beneficiary.
  • Bereavement Leave
    Up to three days paid, worth $480, for the death of a spouse or close relative.
    No time off is guaranteed for the death of a partner or a member of partner’s family.
  • Pension
    Employee can name anyone as beneficiary. But if employee dies before retirement, spouse automatically gets $800/month pension plus two week’s pay for each year employee worked.
    A partner would get the severance pay, but not the $800/month.
  • Social Security
    Again, if employee died, a spouse upon reaching age 60 could receive average monthly benefits of $492.
    A partner is ineligible.

Or to put it another way, if your partner worked for ten years, she or he would have made at least $55,890 less than a married co-worker — and — if you outlived your partner by ten years, you could lose $8,000 in pension payments, and you will never get $4,920 of your partner’s Social Security benefits.

By 1995, six years since the Examiner did their report, benefits were made available at that newspaper, but only if a worker was a member of the Newspaper Guild — and they still cannot get social security benefits for their partners.

And the benefits listed above are only those related to the workplace. Other monies lost are related to inheritance, house and car insurance, frequent flyer use, and possibly taxes.


Example 2 - Memberships

  • Club Memberships
    Example: A tennis club where married couples pay $2,500 initiation and $101/month.
    Two unmarried people each pay $2,000 and $91/month, nearly double the family membership.
  • Auto Club Road Service
    Married couples pay $55/year.
    Two unmarried people each pay $44, for a total of $88/year.


Example 3 - Estate Tax

The San Jose Mercury News, on July 16, 2003, gave an example of the financial impact to a partner before the California Registered Partners act was expanded in September 2003:

“Take the case of a Silicon Valley couple who bought a home for $100,000 that is now worth $500,000. If the husband died, his widow’s property tax would remain the same. Disregarding annual property tax adjustments, the tax bill would continue to be based on $100,000.

“Until last week, that tax rule did not apply to any same-sex couples. A surviving domestic partner would see her partner’s half of the $400,000 appreciation — or $200,000 — reassessed. Assuming a baseline 1 percent property tax rate, that would translate into an extra $2,000 property tax bill each year.”

The savings of $2,000 per year is what married couples already received.


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