Post same-sex marriage, elderly gay Americans still face challenges

When the Supreme Court decision affirming gay marriage extended rights to all married couples, it seemed there had never been a better time to be gay in America.

In practical terms, spouses can now review each other’s hospital treatment and medical decisions, ask medical professionals for information and visit hospital treatment environments typically restricted to family members, which of course they are.  

As well, same-sex couples can claim state tax and spousal benefits in the event of divorce or death, including access to a spouse’s retirement benefits and, in the absence of a will, marital property and inheritance.

However according to an article in the Columbus Dispatch, there are still challenges which have yet to be addressed when it comes to accessing benefits and rights.

Challenges around employment and housing are still very real disincentives for gay couples considering marriage. But without that legal recognition, there is virtually no access to the benefits and rights that go along with being married.

Not having marital status can result in real hardship for gay partners. If one dies, an unsympathetic family member of the deceased may take ownership of their family member’s body and exclude the partner from funeral plans.

Of course demographics is on the winning side of history as the numbers of bisexual, lesbian or transgender Americans over the age of 60 is expected to double by 2030.

As the number of these openly celebrated relationships grow, society’s acceptance will grow along with it.

I have clients who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender. I would like them to be able to access all of the medical and living benefits they can to assist in their end-of-life planning. To do that I ensure they have adequate powers of attorney in place to ensure their partner (be they married or not) can direct their care and access medical information..

I can only hope they get to live their lives without prejudice and bigotry as they age.

To read an article on the issue from the Columbia Dispatch, click here.