Survivorship and Inheritance Rights for Same-Gender Couples: Relevance to Social Workers

  • Jessica Cordero
  • Darrel Montero
  • Teisha Portee
  • Renee Spears
  • Vicki Stevenson
  • Erica Tatum
Keywords: Homosexuality, same-gender unions, same-gender marriages, domestic partnerships, marriage


Californians voted in November 2008 to ban the right to same-gender marriage in California. This paper summarizes data on changes in societal attitudes relative to homosexuals, same-gender couples, and their civil rights as reflected in Gallup and Princeton Survey Research Associates International poll data over the years through 2011. These findings report deeply entrenched and enduring divisions in American attitudes toward the rights and status of same-gender couples. Although historically a majority of Americans has consistently opposed same-gender marriage, Americans increasingly recognize the need to extend equality to same-gender couples in the form of employment rights, inheritance rights, Social Security, and health insurance benefits. This article explores existing and proposed policies regarding the rights of same-gender couples. In addition, it examines the implications and opportunities for advocacy by social workers who face the challenge of navigating the legal and personal obstacles that arise when their client’s same-gender relationships are not sanctioned by law.