SAGE: Advocacy & Services for LGBT Elders
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For Immediate Release

June 3, 2013

Freedom to Marry and SAGE to Hold Panel on DOMA Harms on Older Couples

[Washington, D.C.]
With a Supreme Court decision expected this month in two marriage cases, Freedom to Marry and Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) will present a panel on the harms of the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act on older same-sex couples. The panel, on June 10 at the National Press Club, will include leaders, experts, and LGBT seniors telling their stories of harm. The event will be moderated by communications and political strategist Hilary Rosen.

Under DOMA, married same-sex couples are denied more than 1,100 protections and responsibilities automatically afforded to other married couples, including Social Security survivor benefits, access to health care and family leave, the ability to pool resources without adverse tax treatment, parenting rights, and familial status for immigration purposes.


Nicole Collins Bronzan
Communications Director
Freedom to Marry

Judy K. Evans
Director of Marketing and Media Relations
Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders
212-741-2247 x237

WHAT: The Harms of Marriage Discrimination: Older Same-Sex Couples and DOMA 


  • Michael Adams, executive director, Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders
  • Sarah L. Byrne, senior legislative representative, Alliance for Retired Americans
  • Paul Nathanson, executive director, National Senior Citizens Law Center
  • Web Phillips, senior legislative representative, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare
  • Hilary Rosen, managing director, SKDKnickerbocker and CNN commentator
  • Stacy Sanders, federal policy director, Medicare Rights Center
  • Thomas Sciacca, NY attorney with expertise in estate and disability planning
  • Imani Woody, LGBT senior and director and founder of Mary’s House for Older Adults

Monday, June 10
9 a.m. -10:30 a.m. ET

The National Press Club
529 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20045
The Zenger Room
Can't make it in person? Use our call-in number: 1-800-658-7107 (one-way listen-only service)

**Please RSVP to

Because of DOMA, older gay and lesbian couples who are already dealing with the emotional and physical stresses of aging face additional financial hardships. For example:

  1. 21.2% of older New Yorkers live in poverty, according to a 2010 AARP Public Policy Institute report. In the District of Columbia, the number is even higher, with 31.5% of residents over 65 living in poverty.
  2. DOMA requires the value of the same-sex spouse’s health insurance to be treated as taxable income, costing same-sex couples on average $1,069 more per year than their married heterosexual counterparts with the same coverage, according to the Williams Institute.
  3. The lack of survivor benefits in Social Security can cost a legally married same-sex widow or widower up to $30,156 per year in lost income, according to Social Security Administration estimates.
  4. A 2009 report by the Williams Institute estimated that same-sex couples affected by the federal estate tax would lose an average of $1.1 million per couple in 2011 due to the inequity caused by DOMA.


SAGE is the country's largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults. Founded in 1978 and headquartered in New York City, SAGE is a national organization that advocates for public policy changes that address the needs of LGBT older people. SAGE also offers supportive services and consumer resources to LGBT older adults and their caregivers, provides education and technical assistance for aging providers and LGBT organizations through its National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, and cultural competence training through SAGECare. With staff located across the country, SAGE coordinates a growing network of affiliates across the country. Learn more at

Freedom to Marry is the campaign to win marriage nationwide. We are pursuing our Roadmap to Victory by working to win the freedom to marry in more states, grow the national majority for marriage, and end federal marriage discrimination. We partner with individuals and organizations across the country to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage and the protections, responsibilities, and commitment that marriage brings.

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Christina DaCosta
Director of Communications

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