Tags: Homosexuals | Await | Bush's | Social | Security | Overhaul

Homosexuals Await Bush's Social Security Overhaul

Monday, 07 May 2001 12:00 AM

President Bush last week appointed a presidential commission to construct a plan for privatizing part of the New Deal-era Social Security program. That's none too soon, if you ask homosexual groups such as Log Cabin Republicans and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

"People are looking for greater control over their own retirement benefits and greater individual choice in how they're going to be applied and distributed," said Kevin Ivers, director of communications for the Log Cabin Republicans. "Anything that maximizes individual choice and control over your own retirement is not only going to help all Americans, but it's certainly going to help our community."

"Bush's appointees to this commission should take a look at how antiquated, old-fashioned, discriminatory Social Security policies affect such a large chunk of the U.S. populace," said David Elliot, communications director for National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

Since his 2000 presidential campaign, Bush has promoted the idea of adding a personal retirement accounts component to the pay-as-you-go Social Security system, which, according to the program's trustees, is facing bankruptcy in the decades to come. In bequeathing retirement benefits to one's heirs, a system of personal accounts would offer more options to homosexual couples.

"Neither Social Security nor many pension plans pay benefits to survivors," Elliot noted.

"The effects are devastating. We've estimated that the loss of money because of anti-gay policies within both Social Security and private pension plans annually ranges from hundreds of millions of dollars to as much as one billion dollars. That's how much aging gay and lesbian people are losing," said Elliot.

Andrew Biggs, Social Security policy analyst for the Cato Institute, agrees that homosexual couples were on the losing end of the Social Security stick. "The stereotypical traditional family of the working husband and the nonworking wife gets the best deal from the current system, but the further you move away from that, the worse deal you get," said Biggs.

Homosexual couples are disadvantaged by the current system in several ways, according to Biggs. "Gay couples, because they can't receive spousal and survivor's benefits get one of the worst deals of all," said Biggs.

"Add onto that, although HIV is more manageable than it used to be, you know you're not going to be living until you're 75 years old, and yet you've got to keep paying into Social Security.

"Given the way that society is moving, with the so-called traditional family less and less common, do we want to have a system for the 21st century that was based on the type of household we had in the 1930s," when Social Security was started, asked Biggs.

Aging and retirement issues are of growing concern to the homosexual baby boomers, according to Elliot. "It's a hot issue within our community," he said. "Roughly one generation has passed since gays and lesbians started coming out of the closet in large numbers. That generation is in their 50s, 60s and 70s."

"The maturation of our movement has just started getting media attention," said Elliot, so "society and both private and public sector policies are going to need a little bit of time to catch up."

The private sector is a little bit ahead at this point, according to Elliot. "Fortunately, at the end of the day, the private marketplace will reign," he said. "Look at the number of companies offering domestic partner benefits, which has increased dramatically over the last two years. We can make this progress even with the anti-marriage laws in our country."

The president expects the commission to complete its work sometime in the fall. Its recommendations are likely to hit rocky waters in Congress. After Bush's May 2 press conference announcing the commission, House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., led a delegation of congressional Democrats in opposing the commission.

"We are not going to stand by and let Social Security be ruined," warned Gephardt. "It is a huge fundamental change to privatize it and to allow people to invest their accounts on their own. If you just look at the last year of experience with the stock market, you know that that is a risky idea."

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President Bush last week appointed a presidential commission to construct a plan for privatizing part of the New Deal-era Social Security program. That's none too soon, if you ask homosexual groups such as Log Cabin Republicans and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. ...
Homosexuals,Await,Bush's,Social,Security,Overhaul
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2001-00-07
Monday, 07 May 2001 12:00 AM
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