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After more than 40 years together, Hal Birchfield and James Merrick Smith traveled to New York in October 2012 and got married. Tragically, less than a year later, in September 2013, James died. Upon James’ death, his share of the home they owned together was transferred to Hal, but because at that time Florida did not recognize their marriage, that transfer was treated as a “change of ownership” instead of as a transfer to a surviving spouse. As a result, the taxable value of Hal’s property jumped significantly – a financial burden from which surviving different-sex spouses are protected.
Case on behalf of a transgender man discriminated against by his federal employer because it denied health care coverage.
Summary Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit against the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA) on behalf of Dave Williams, a widower now living in Chicago, who was denied spousal benefits after the death of his husband, Carl Allen.
Lambda Legal filed suit against the Social Security Administration (SSA) on behalf of Kathy Murphy, a Texas widow denied spousal benefits after the death of her wife, and the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (the National Committee), arguing that denying Social Security benefits to same-sex spouses because they live in states that discriminate against their marriages violates the U.S. Constitution.