Wednesday, May 30, 2012
SAN DIEGO Under California’s Domestic Partnership law, registered partners of current gay and lesbian public workers are eligible to receive survivor pension benefits if their partners die.
Members of San Diego’s LGBT community say the pension reform measure on next week’s ballot would be harmful for gay couples.
San Diego's Proposition B, on the June 5 ballot, would eliminate those pensions for most new hires and replace them with 401(k)s. It also seeks to impose a five-year pay freeze on current employees.
If Proposition B is approved the city might also rejoin Social Security. But since the federal government doesn’t recognize gay marriage, partners would not be eligible to receive Social Security survivor benefits like straight married couples can get.
Rachel Scoma is with Canvass for a Cause. She said, if Prop B passes, gay couples will lose out no matter what the city decides to do about Social Security.
"Because at a federal level gay marriage is not legal, they won’t have access to Social Security," she said. "So even if they opt in, or they don’t, they are left with a 401(k) and no guaranteed pensions or Social Security, no guaranteed survivor benefits."
Scoma said she is not planning any lawsuits against Proposition B at this point because she thinks there will be multiple suits filed on behalf of city workers if the measure passes.
San Diego's leading mayoral candidates are weighing in on the issue of LGBT benefits under Proposition B. Republican District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis is a lesbian and supports Proposition B. She issued the following statement:
"My support for LGBT equality has been long-standing on many fronts, including the issues of survivor benefits and marriage equality at the federal level. Under Prop B, same sex couples will still be eligible for survivor benefits under the 401K and annuity. As mayor, I will work to guarantee that eligibility during the implementation phase of Prop B."
Republican City Councilman Carl DeMaio, who is is gay, has been a driving force behind Proposition B. DeMaio issued the following statement:
"Inequality in the Social Security system is a problem that should be fixed at the federal level. However, under Prop B, the decision of whether to enroll in Social Security will ultimately be made by city employees themselves. I will encourage them to take this issue into careful consideration during the implementation of Prop B."
Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, who is running as an independent candidate, also supports Proposition B and also issued a statement:
"The federal government should allow same-sex couples receive Social Security survivorship benefits. I support Proposition B and will work with the LGBT community to ensure same-sex couples are eligible for survivorship benefits the City provides."
Democratic Congressman Bob Filner is the only major mayoral candidate who does not support Proposition B.