Lambda Legal scored many amazing victories this year in the fight for the rights of LGBT people and people with HIV. But we’re not done yet. This series showcases some of our proudest accomplishments in 2014, and explores some of the work that we still need to do to achieve full equality for the LGBT and HIV communities.
Here are highlights of Lambda Legal’s seniors work in 2014 and goals for 2015.
- A Transgender Widow Gets Social Security Benefits: The federal government tried to tell Robina Asti that her marriage wasn’t valid. Our work on her behalf resulted not only in Ms. Asti receiving the spousal benefits to which she was entitled, but in the Social Security Administration (SSA) revising its policies regarding the ability of transgender people to claim spousal benefits. We continue to advocate for those transgender spouses whose marriages are not being respected, including a recent appeal on behalf of a widow in Florida whose benefits have been denied.
- Victory for a Surviving Spouse in New Mexico: We supported an appeal to CNA Insurance of Chicago by a surviving spouse who had been denied retirement benefits because his marriage had lasted less than one year. While this policy is permissible under federal law, it ignores the realities faced by long-term committed same-sex couples who could not get married while their states denied equal marriage rights. CNA agreed to amend their retirement plan to ensure that surviving same-sex spouses have a way to meet eligibility requirements.
- Why Lambda Legal Is Suing Social Security: Lambda Legal has filed two lawsuits seeking to compel the SSA to provide critical benefits to surviving same-sex spouses no matter where they live. We brought suit on behalf of the surviving same-sex spouses of a Texas lesbian and a gay man from Arkansas, as well as the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, arguing that SSA’s reliance on discriminatory state marriage bans to deny spousal benefits violates the constitution.