Reuters details gap in Federal Benefits for LGBT couples

Reuters has detailed the painful story of how Herb Burtis and John Ferris, although a beautiful love story, continue to be cheated out of the benefits the surviving spouse, Burtis, deserves.

Herb Burtis and John Ferris met while both were undergraduate music students at Michigan State University in 1948. Burtis was 18, and Ferris was a 22-year-old veteran of the U.S. Army. They studied with the same organ teacher and connected initially through their mutual love of music.

Burtis and Ferris committed to one another and ultimately spending 60 years together. They were married in 2004, after Massachusetts became the first state in the country to legalize same-sex marriage.

“I told him I was only marrying him for his benefits,” Burtis recalls with a laugh. At the time, he was just kidding about the benefits– but it turned out to be no laughing matter.

The article goes into detail about the thousands of dollars we are denied through Social Security, health insurance, income taxes, tax treatment of estates along with denied Medicare benefits. Of course, their story of discrimination is legion in our community. There truly is no excuse except for a desire to continue to deny us our equality.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  David Taffet

OutMilitary.com connects gay servicemembers

John McKinnon

John McKinnon said he launched OutMilitary.com on Dec. 28 — right after the Senate voted to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

OutMilitary.com is a social networking site for active military and their supporters including gay and lesbian military retirees. McKinnon calls the site a Facebook clone as far as usability.

After Reuters and ABC News picked up a story about the site, OutMilitary began adding several hundred new members a day. Today, about 2,000 members belong to the network.

McKinnon said they are setting up groups for every military base and creating events. Members have told him the site is “quite liberating.” Many active duty personnel have joined under their own names and listed their current location. Others have disguised their names and locations because “don’t ask, don’t tell” is still in effect and new service members may still be processed under the law.

Membership cuts across all branches and ranks.

— David Taffet

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 4, 2011.

—  John Wright