Dems push to expand benefits for gay couples

House Democrats are pushing to expand Social Security and Medicare benefits for gay couples.

Legislation being drafted by Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.),would allow gay and lesbian couples married in states that recognize their union to receive all the benefits of those federal programs regardless of where they live afterwards.

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Supporters say the current law governing Social Security and Medicare effectively discriminates against some couples by denying certain benefits if the pair moves to a state that doesn't recognize gay marriage. 

"The Social Security Act says to you to issue benefits based on where the couple actually lives, not where they celebrated their marriage," Takano said Tuesday. "This bill would basically allow … Social Security and Medicare benefits to be issued based on where the couple had the marriage celebrated." 

Rep. Xavier Becerra (Calif.), head of the House Democratic Caucus, said party leaders will be pushing hard to promote the legislation.

"Every couple in America should have the opportunity to be afforded all the rights and privileges guaranteed to any other American," Becerra said.

The bill has little chance of moving through the Republican-led House. GOP leaders have long-refused Democratic calls to take up legislation – dubbed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) – that would bar employers from discriminating against applicants or employees based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Still, the Democrats are hoping the debate will draw distinct policy differences between the two parties when it comes to gay and lesbian issues ahead of November's midterm elections.

Takano said he will unveil his proposal after Congress returns from next week's July 4th break.