Gay Marriage Rights: In Sickness and in Health

Looking back, I’m amazed what a difference just a few years made for gay marriage rights! In 2012, North Carolina passed a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage, in addition to the current law that bans marriage for my family. The next day, our President announced support for gay marriage, followed by the NAACP. Since then, there has been a steady stream of legislative and judicial advancements: Gay marriage is now legal in 17 states. These events have sparked dialogue and conversations never enjoyed before now. Even within my own family, new discussions have emerged. This is healthy discourse for an evolving society.

The laws about gay marriage rights and benefits are constantly changing.

The laws about gay marriage rights and benefits are constantly changing.

As a financial professional, I wanted to remind our blog readers that the issues most important to my family are issues of legal protections, tax rights, and financial implications. There are many legal benefits with marriage, but here is a simple list of some categories that embody the nontraditional family’s financial burden. Here are benefits not afforded when gay marriage is illegal:

Social security benefits for partner

Social Security benefits for children

Immigration rights/protections

Tax free health benefits for domestic partners

Estate tax benefits

Family leave benefits

Nursing home protections

Home and real estate protections

Pension transfers

As you begin having dialogue on same sex marriage laws, be sure you know the factual differences related to financial protections of federally recognized marriages (unrelated to social or religious differences). We need to remain super-prepared to battle in the courts for our rights. In my third grade classroom, I said the Pledge of Allegiance each morning, and my daughter does today; now my hope is that the entirety of that allegiance reaches its full truth for her children.

Renee Brown

About Renee Brown

Renee Brown is the Senior Vice President and Enterprise Social Media Leader for Wells Fargo. She looks forward to bringing her unique perspective to Beyond Today, addressing the challenges non-traditional families face, as well as the issues that bind us all.
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14 Responses to Gay Marriage Rights: In Sickness and in Health

  1. Ann Walker says:

    Thanks for an informative article. It’s surprising how many people think of gay marriage only as a license to have sex and bear children.

  2. Matt Hurwitz says:

    Great post Renee, having been through the whole estate planning process before same-sex marriage was legal in California, I can say I have a much greater appreciation of just how confusing this process can be. More conversations need to be had!
    Matt is a Wells Fargo employee.

  3. Leslie says:

    Renee, this is such a well-written blog. It seems like these very important considerations are not part of the public dialog as much as they should be! Raising awareness of the financial implications is constructive, compelling, and thought-provoking. Thank you!

  4. Cynthia says:

    Hello, Ms. Brown. I will be in North Carolina at Greensboro on March 20, lecturing the NC Bar Association’s Marriage Equality Day, about federal benefits and the same sex marriage rollout. Can you direct me to any post-October 2014 materials on the Wells Fargo website guiding its employees or those with customer responsibilities about these changes? Thanks -I know that Wells Fargo is a major financial services company headquartered there, so wanted to reach out before I talked to your lawyers. I am an Oregon lawyer, who has much experience in estate planning and elder law for same sex couples, and your state bar invited me to help educate the bar there.

    • Melisa Schilling Melisa Schilling says:

      Cynthia – thank you for your post. If you are interested in speaking to one of our ADPA certfied professionals, please email us at and we will do our best to get you in contact with someone in the NC area.

  5. Anthony says:

    I have been banking with Wells Fargo (and the former Wachovia Bank) since 1979. I see more and more challenges to my Christian beliefs from the corporate world. While Wells Fargo has decided to take this direction I must honor my faith. I will be closing my accounts in the next few weeks.

  6. Sandy says:

    I was so moved and proud of the commercial showing two moms adopting a deaf child. Way to go Wells Fargo.

  7. Richard says:

    The new ad about the “two moms” is disappointing to me. I do hold to traditional values when it comes to marriage and the family from a Christian’s perspective. We have been basically satisfied with your service but cannot support a company that promotes this kind of life style.

  8. John says:

    As a stock holder I was disappointed in WFC’s anti child ads. Children ideally need a mother and a father as has been proven time and again by research. A bank has no business pushing it’s political agenda

    • Renee Brown Renee Brown says:

      At Wells Fargo, serving every customer is core to our Vision and Values. Diversity and Inclusion is foundational to who we are as a company, and part of our Vision & Values. Wells Fargo’s support for the LGBT community aligns with our broader commitment to diversity –to serve diverse customers, to hire, develop and retain diverse team members and to encourage team members to value and respect each other for their differences. Our advertising content reflects our company’s values, and represents the diversity of the communities we serve.

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