Marriage and Financial Inequality: Why Gay & Lesbian Couples Pay More

Same-sex couples seek marriage rights and legal protections, from accessing healthcare benefits to transferring wealth

same sex black married couple

Moore and Harley are currently fostering a baby with plans to adopt

“While California may not have same-sex civil marriage, it is unique in that it is one of the few states that allow same-sex couples to adopt,” says Harley, a graphic artist.

The couple, who are currently fostering a baby they plan to adopt, work with a lawyer and financial planner to stay current on the different changes that are taking place in terms of how same sex couples are protected or not protected. The couple purchased their home together in September 2006.

“We are joint tenants in common. We did that to protect ourselves. If we were heterosexuals who married, we wouldn’t have to, because if one of us died the home would automatically go to the surviving spouse,” says Moore. “With same-sex couples, on the other hand, if one partner owns property and later adds his or her spouse to the deed, it creates a gift tax.”

Moore and Harley represent millions of gay and lesbian couples for whom being denied a civil marriage affects their families financially at every stage of life. The impact is often felt in five key areas: taxes, Social Security survivor benefits, medical benefits, pensions, and homeownership and estate planning. Says Crawford, “They are at a disadvantage legally and financially.”

The Battle for Benefits

“Straight married couples have the right to make medical and financial decisions on one another’s behalf, but for a gay or lesbian couple, if someone is hospitalized his or her partner is powerless. To be allowed to even visit that spouse would require a healthcare proxy,” says Taylor.

Getting health insurance is another obstacle. JaChel and Micaela Redmond of Dallas were married last year in the District of Columbia since Texas does not recognize same-sex marriage or domestic partnerships. The 32-year-old couple has one child, JaChel’s 11-year-old daughter, Micaela, who is self-employed, wants to give birth to a second child but her single policy wouldn’t cover maternal care costs, and JaChel’s company doesn’t offer domestic partner benefits. Since they don’t qualify for a family health insurance plan, starting a family is financially out the question.

Due to DOMA, the lack of federal benefits presents a challenge for couples like Tasha and Kaali Cohen who obtained a civil union in New Jersey

There’s also the issue of laws that establish both spouses as a child’s parents if the child is born during the marriage; only in states that have marriage equality, civil unions, or domestic partnerships is the non-biological parent in same-sex couples put on the birth certificate, which affects that parent’s ability to put the child on his or her health insurance, enroll the child in school, travel with the child, or make medical decisions for the child. Even in instances where employers offer health insurance to domestic partners, those benefits are federally taxed as an additional income at the employee’s rate. Several firms, including TD Bank, Google, Barclays, Microsoft, and the Gates Foundation, have opted to absorb these extra costs to equalize benefits for their gay and lesbian employees.

Federal benefits present an even bigger challenge for Kaali and LaTasha Cohen. Together nine years, the couple obtained a civil union in New Jersey in 2008. Kaali, 41, was in a severe car accident and was deemed disabled.

“Because I am considered single, I receive less Social Security benefits than I would if I were in a straight marriage. I have a spouse and a daughter [Tasha’s biological child]. But to the government my daughter ceases to exist; my wife ceases to exist. So, where my daughter should be able to get benefits because I am her stepparent, she is not entitled. My wife would not qualify for Social Security survivor benefits,” says Kaali, who is the CEO and founder of REDZONE Solutions Inc., a consulting firm in Pennsauken.

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  • Dwight Haskins

    Who is regulating the bank regulators? And why are government watchdogs such as the Government Accountability Project, POGO and others not really assisting whistleblowers as they proclaim?


    I am a federal government whistleblower who was retaliated against for blowing the whistle to expose wrongdoing by top officials at the FDIC. Shockingly, I have been unable to get any journalists at the New York Times or Washington Post to investigate my inside story as of yet. Shame on Bob Woodward if he has allowed the White House to chill his interest. I can show racial discrimination by the top 10 banks and by government regulators.

    Here is the link to my newly published book about the inside story of how government regulators caused the financial crisis. The book also is to inform the public how justice has been denied.

    I can show cronyism between regulators, former regulators, top consultants, and government watchdogs is what led to the financial crisis. When you get regulators and those to be regulated so cozy together (i.e. sleeping in the same bed), you get a dysfunctional, unfair, and corrupt capital system.

    If Congress or journalists really desired to pull back the curtains, they would reveal corruption at the highest levels of government, consultancies, and banking industry not seen since the SEC and FDIC were first created. We have a new type of robber-barrons, too tightly connected with regulators to enable any effective policing or regulatory oversight to produce badly needed reforms.

    I headed up the large bank oversight program for the FDIC for a decade up to the financial crisis. I certainly know what happened at the agency and know where the skeletons are buried and hidden from public view. I tried to alert the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission and was ignored. I alerted the Chairman and the Vice Chairman of the FDIC, ombudsmen, and Inspector General as to how top officials were burying crucial warnings about the emerging crisis under the rug to protect the guilty.

    I am dismayed and a bit shocked that our newspaper and television journalists are not interested in investigating what should be one of the most important stories to this day as to why the financial crisis occurred. All readers, contact me if you want to know the truth. Obviously, I could only put evidence that was not going to get me hauled up before a judge and fired while I was still heading up the FDIC’s large bank program.

    Unfortunately, it appears that most American investigative journalists are forced to straddle the fence by appearing to be a wolf, but are still in sheep clothing. They care not about exclusivity or whether bits and pieces of the story has made its way to the public domain. What they care about is filling a quota and meeting a publication deadline.

    I am amazed there is a lack of interest by the press to unearth the quiet conspiracy so far successful by the government to hide the damage it has caused American homeowners and investors throughout the world. Heck, there were non-stop stories and investigations by the press about John Edward’s affair with Rielle Hunter. How does that possibly compare to the harmful consequences to the public caused by a handful of top regulators who purposely failed to perform their jobs?

    My account certainly has to be the most shocking, definitive account in identifying the primary culprits and key, hidden factors that led to the financial crisis. I don’t want to blow my horn too loudly but if a journalist or consumer watchdog wanted a reportorial tour de force worthy of a Emmy, there perhaps, is no better means to explore what I have to share.

    Sadly, had government officials listened to what I had said, billions of dollars could have been saved. Of course, the harm and disruptions the mortgage crisis caused homeowners may have been spared as well.

    How often does the press get to see the details of the “inside story” where they can make it public for all to see?

  • connie

    Get a “Clue People A Real Marriage is between Man and Woman”..Surely these two ladies have “Bible Knowledge”…..duh

    • Sad for us

      Stop with this religious crap and let people (adults) live their lives. Take a look at the Minister in Georgia who preached homophic rheteric yet sleeping with “boys not men”. Sick crap!!

  • Guest

    Black unemployment is double the national average, but Black Enterprise is focused on sinful homo marriage??? No wonder black people are always at the bottom. They have no valuable focus or real priorities.

    • AH

      Black people are always at the bottom because of resistance to change and closed minded thinking. Once folks like you are weeded out through natural selection, we will be a stronger Black community.

  • Straw

    Good article. Please correct the incomplete first sentence though before it is published. It reads: “It was a day many couples dream of for Mignon R. Moore, 42, and Elaine Harley, 43, who exchanged wedding vows at a beachside ceremony in Los Cabos, Mexico, in 2012.” Instead, you might say: “It was a day many couples dream of. For Mignon R. Moore, 42, and Elaine Harley, 43, their wedding vows at a beachside ceremony in Los Cabos, Mexico, in 2012, was simply beautiful.”

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