Even as gay activists continue to press for marriage rights across the country, some have turned to fight discrimination on another front — that of equality for Social Security benefits.
The activists are promoting a video in a YouTube contest to make the case that gay Americans pay equally into the Social Security system, so should reap its benefits equally. The online video, which focuses on a lesbian alien who is denied Social Security benefits after the death of her partner of 25 years, is a finalist in YouTube’s 4th annual DoGooder Nonprofit Video Awards.
“What Kind of Planet Are We On?” it is the only LGBT-related entry among the 16 finalists, according to the activists who created the video, which is Rock for Equality, a project of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center and the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, in coalition with AIDS Community Action Foundation and produced by MZA Events. Its goal is to build support for ending Social Security discrimination against same-sex couples.
“We see first-hand the devastating results of Social Security discrimination and its impact on the lives of the [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] LGBT seniors we serve every day,” says center CEO Lorri Jean. “It’s nothing short of outrageous that, having paid into the system fairly and equally—often throughout decades of hard work—LGBT people are denied the same benefits.”
A report last month put a spotlight on Social Security equality as an issue, one which has been embraced by large retiree advocacy organizations, such as AARP.
If it receives enough votes, “What Kind of Planet Are We On” would win $10,000 to fight Social Security discrimination and a premium spot on YouTube’s homepage.
Rock for Equality is staging a Los Angeles rally, march and rocking chair “rock-in” to demand an end to Social Security discrimination on Sunday, April 11 at 9:30 a.m. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) will be among the many leaders who is expected to join an anticipated hundreds of protesters who will march to the Hollywood Social Security office for a rocking chair “rock-in,” the the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center says in a statement.
Supporters of Social Security equality note that the city council of Los Angeles unanimously passed a resolution calling on the federal government to end Social Security policies that deny equal benefits to same-sex couples. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is expected to sign the resolution soon, making Los Angeles the first city to support an end to Social Security discrimination.
Anyone with a YouTube account can vote once per day between now and Wednesday, when voting closes at 9 p.m. PDT.
The publisher of the news site On The Hill, Scott Nance has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.