Social Security Reform and the Gay Community

Andrew Lee, an undergraduate at my alma mater, argues that the gay community would benefit from President Bush’s plan:

Red, Blue, and Rainbow (SF Chronicle)

As it is now, same-sex couples cannot receive Social Security survivor benefits or dependent benefits because they are not married under federal law. If Social Security were privatized, however, the federal government could not regulate the beneficiaries of private accounts. Same-sex partners, like any other beneficiary, could receive survivor benefits or dependent benefits.


If allowed to go forth, Social Security privatization will limit the ability of the government to act as arbiter of Social Security survivor benefits, and therefore recognition of beneficiaries. Up to this point, gay activists have focused on working through the judiciary and state or local governments to recognize same-sex partnerships. Although the gay community might dream of government recognition, at present this is impractical. Without sweeping federal redefinition, gays and lesbians will continue to receive unequal benefits. If they are to make the best of the situation, they should support private accounts, forming alliances with Republicans who support limited government.

This argument echoes BoiFromTroy’s August 2004 post, among others. It obviously makes sense, but given how high-profile the issue is, gays and lesbians are bound to face more pressure than they normally do to toe the Democratic line. Additionally, in the past month, the Bush administration hasn’t exactly laid the foundation for such a political crossing. See the Department of Health and Human Services.

Nonetheless, as Andrew writes in a pretty clever closing line, “This dialogue should come out of the closet.”

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Robert Garcia Tagorda
About Robert Garcia Tagorda
Robert blogged prolifically at OTB from November 2004 to August 2005, when career demands took him in a different direction. He graduated summa cum laude from Claremont McKenna College with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics and earned his Master in Public Policy from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.


  1. Skaje says:

    That’s almost as good as “Blacks should support privatization because they die young.”

  2. Meredith says:

    I think he has a point. Recently Log Cabin Republicans endorsed privatization-

    Maybe it is time to take government out of their lives rather than try to make it recognize their legitimacy.

    Bush may lose this push, but if he does, Lee says that gays have nothing to lose. Gays can use this to highlight their issues.