originally posted Wednesday, April 29, 2009
The Social Security Administration has reversed a decision to deny benefits to the children of a disabled gay father following a three year battle waged on behalf of the family by Lambda Legal.
“This is long awaited relief for Gary Day and his children, who just want to be respected as the family that they are,” said Lambda attorney Beth Littrell in a statement. “The Social Security Administration is supposed to provide families with help in a time of need regardless of a parent’s sexual orientation. After three long years and a federal lawsuit, the SSA has finally come through for these children.”
In February 2006, Day completed the applications for Child Insurance Benefits for his children. He provided birth certificates and court documents that acknowledge him as a legal parent of the children. The SSA acknowledged that they received the application and promised to provide a response in 45 days and yet more than a year passed and he received no response whatsoever.
Then Lambda Legal sent a letter on Day’s behalf and still the SSA still did not provide an initial determination of eligibility citing unspecified “legal questions and policy issues” involved with the application.
Gary Day did all the right things, all that he was asked. He provided the necessary documentation to establish a legitimate parent-child relationship and fulfilled all of the SSA’s prerequisites, yet his family was left without the social safety net that Day had paid into for decades and that all other families are provided on a regular basis.
In May 2008, over two years after his initial request, Lamda Legal and Gary Day had had enough. They filed suit against the SSA forcing the agency to act on Day’s application, urging them to recognize Day as a legal parent of the children. Finally, just last Friday, almost a year later, the SSA recognized the legal relationship between Day and his children without discrimination based on his sexual orientation or family status.
“As a parent, it is my job to provide for my children,” said Day. ” I am relieved to be able to fulfill my promise and also relieved that the SSA will provide the benefits my family needs, just as they do for other families.”
This was man who simply wanted to provide for his children, and was denied, at the most, or ignored, at the least, in trying to do so. It's another form of discrimination that gay Americans face every day, that straight Americans take for granted.
It was a good day, then, for Gary Day, and gay America.