From, of all places, The Washington Post:
Ken Hausman and his partner, Deane Bergsrud, have been together for 27 years, and like many couples their age, they’re thinking ahead to retirement. They both have 401(k) plans at work and individual retirement accounts, and Hausman has a pension.
Nonetheless, “we worry a great deal about the future,” Hausman said.
One of their worries is whether the surviving partner will be adequately protected when the other dies — because of their unmarried status.
Unmarried couples lack the automatic legal protections that kick in when one member of a married couple dies. And they lack other advantages in planning for financial security in retirement that are taken for granted by most couples.
But marriage is a solution that is unavailable to Hausman and Bergsrud. They live in Virginia, where marriage is prohibited for same-sex couples, as it is in most of the United States.
This is a really good article that not only shows the pitfalls of not having marriage available to same sex couples but how such semi-solutions as civil unions don’t really do the trick.
It’s an obvious thread once people draw it, but it’s not always easy to articulate specific examples. Many financial institutions work across state lines and even if working in the state of Vermont, they’d be obligated to recognize a civil union, if you’re in Vermont and work out of a bank in Delaware, you could easily get screwed out of any benefits that would by law be afforded to married couples. Vermont’s civil unions, requiring CUs to be legally identical to marriage don’t go anywhere near that, even if all of your business is conducted from the state of Vermont.