Andi, 63 met her beloved Barbara when the two women were in their early 20′s. Already the mother of a 3-year-old son, Andi was delighted when Barbara joined her as a life partner and became the second mother to her child.
During their 36 year partnership, Andi and Barbara worked, raised a heterosexual son, became grandparents, and purchased a home. In the 1970′s, the two women were married in a religious ceremony. Twenty-five years later, they renewed their vows at the home they shared, in the presence of members of their church community, in front of scores of friends and before their large, supportive family.
Barbara nursed Andi when she was critically injured in an automobile accident. Andi nursed Barbara as she struggled for ten years with the emphysema that finally took her life. On Valentine’s Day, 2005, Andi made the difficult decision to remove Barbara’s life support. “I was keeping her alive for ME – I had to let her go. She was the stronger one, but I had to let her go and now, here I am,” says Andi.
At the time of her death, Barbara had been collecting Social Security and her monthly income was $1600. Together with Andi’s $900 benefit, the household income was $2500 per month. But Barbara died and her monthly benefit was denied to her widow. With that, Andi’s monthly income plunged to just $900 per month.
Widowed and now poor, Andi was forced out of the home she and Barbara had shared and into subsidized housing - but that’s because she’s one of the lucky ones. She was able to qualify for a place that she could afford. If Andi and Barbara’s marriages counted in the eyes of the federal government, Andi would now be receiving Barbara’s benefit of $1600 per month. She would still have a lower income than before, but she would have been able to keep her home. She would have been able to participate in the American dream that she and Barbara had shared and built.
Andi doesn’t want a hand-out, or special treatment. Andi wants the benefit of a safety net that other Americans take for granted. Andi wants YOU to join her and Rock for Equality so together we can end Social Security discrimination.