American Foundation for Equal Rights

Marriage News Blog

Financial Expert Suze Orman: Gay and Lesbian Americans Pay More Taxes for Fewer Rights

To mark Tax Day, financial expert Suze Orman writes about the financial inequalities gay and lesbian Americans face in our country:

“That nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriage is encouraging progress for those of us who believe that everyone deserves to have basic civil rights. But, even if every state in the country could pass a similar legislation, it would not be enough. What we need is for our federal government to step up and make this basic right a law of the land.

“Beyond the social discrimination, the refusal of our federal government to legally recognize same-sex marriages imposes steep financial penalties on same-sex couples. That two of the most costly penalties are triggered upon the death of one partner just adds to the ache of the senseless discrimination.”

Using her relationship of 12 years with Kathy Travis as an example, Suze outlines several areas where the discrimination is most apparent: inheritance, social security and health insurance.

But beyond the numbers and financial impact, Suze argues, is the issue of fairness at the time we are most vulnerable:

“But when Thea died in 2009, Edie was hit with a $363,000 federal estate tax bill because as a same-sex couple they were not eligible for the unlimited marital deduction. Are we really a nation that says it is fair and just to demand Edie pay a $363,000 penalty because she is gay?”