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Bush Signs Gay-Rights Law

Say what?   Yeap, it is true. (h/t – Towleroad)

Call it a Christmas present for gay and lesbian couples. President Bush signed the Worker, Retiree and Employer Recovery Act of 2008 (WRERA) two days before Christmas. The new law makes it mandatory for businesses to roll over retirement benefits to a same-sex partner in the event of the employee’s death.

Previously, employers could decline and surviving same-sex partners would have to pay tax on the inheritance of the deceased partner’s retirement savings. Legally married heterosexual couples automatically avoid that tax penalty.

National LGBT rights groups hailed the move. “This legislation secures much-needed protection for lesbian and gay couples,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “Our community faces unique challenges in preparing for retirement because we are denied Social Security spousal and survivor benefits. Protecting our hard-earned retirement savings is even more crucial to us, and until now, the tax code made it that much harder.”

How interesting that this hasn’t been well-reported.  Why?  Because by signing this into law, President George W. Bush has, by law, done more for gays than any other President in history.   President William Jefferson Clinton, on the other hand, signed two laws (DOMA and DADT) that put gay rights progress into full reverse.

Bush increased American gay rights, Clinton took away American gay rights.  Facts are facts.

Ah, the irony.

So, thank you President Bush.  This is actually a solid real-world benefit for same-sex partners across the USA.

[RELATED: Here’s a primer on the new law (WRERA 2008).]

-Bruce (GayPatriot)

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47 Comments

  1. GO GEORGE!!!!! You will come out of this smelling like a rose. You and Harry Truman rock.

    Comment by PatriotMom — January 5, 2009 @ 8:46 am - January 5, 2009

  2. But no commutation for Ramos and Compean. F U W.

    Comment by V the K — January 5, 2009 @ 9:14 am - January 5, 2009

  3. Yeah, let’s cheer the federal government mandating how private businesses treat their employees! Wahoo! Let’s cheer Bush waiting until the 11th hour of his presidency (i.e. when there are no consequences) to be ‘compassionate’! Yahoo!

    Bush increased American gay rights, Clinton took away…

    Uh, no. There is no right to private retirement benefits (unless privately guaranteed per contract) and there is no right to marry or to serve in the military.

    Comment by Ignatius — January 5, 2009 @ 10:09 am - January 5, 2009

  4. Glad GW made this choice. I can not see anything but his belief system at work here. It will be interesting to see this either fall off the radar screen or stir up some sort of fantastic set of talking points on the gay left.

    Comment by heliotrope — January 5, 2009 @ 10:10 am - January 5, 2009

  5. Thanks, Ignatius, that didn’t take long.

    Comment by heliotrope — January 5, 2009 @ 10:12 am - January 5, 2009

  6. Ignatius, please explain:

    Uh, no. There is no right to private retirement benefits (unless privately guaranteed per contract)

    Take as much time and space as you like.

    This is a law, passed by the Democrat Congress and signed by the Republican President. Your comment seems to be denigrating the work of the Democrat Congress. Why would you do that?

    Comment by heliotrope — January 5, 2009 @ 10:21 am - January 5, 2009

  7. Oh, the irony!

    Comment by rightwingprof — January 5, 2009 @ 10:25 am - January 5, 2009

  8. [...] Gay Patriot: Bush increased American gay rights, Clinton took away American gay rights. Facts are facts. [...]

    Pingback by Right Wing Nation » Blog Archive » From The Irony Files — January 5, 2009 @ 10:27 am - January 5, 2009

  9. heliotrope, I think Ignatius’ position is roughly right on this one.

    let’s [i.e., let's not] cheer the federal government mandating how private businesses treat their employees!

    I agree that it doesn’t deserve to be cheered, although, it’s pretty darn obvious that Bruce is only (and correctly) trying to point out to Democrats the irony of their hating Bush while he delivers what they want, and their loving Democrat leaders while said Democrat leaders just keep stabbing them in the back.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — January 5, 2009 @ 10:46 am - January 5, 2009

  10. (i.e. to *gay* Democrats – sorry)

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — January 5, 2009 @ 10:48 am - January 5, 2009

  11. Alright Pres. Bush! It’s not in his grain to be homophobic. Who cares if this happens in the tail end of his presidency? He’s done more than Clinton.

    Comment by Jimbo — January 5, 2009 @ 10:53 am - January 5, 2009

  12. The priveledge of having private retirement benefits in the first place shouldn’t be construed into some kind of right, much less a right to have those benefits rolled over to a same sex partner.

    If President Bush signed a law tomorrow giving all homo couples nationwide who enter into a legal contract with one another, the same benefits as married couples, would the GLBT community drop their rentless pursuit to redefine marriage? I just would like to know what they want.

    Comment by 7he7th7rumpet — January 5, 2009 @ 10:55 am - January 5, 2009

  13. ILC,

    The new law makes it mandatory for businesses to roll over retirement benefits to a same-sex partner in the event of the employee’s death.

    There are reasons to regulate free enterprise. A gay employee who accumulates retirement benefits should certainly be able to direct the benefits in the event of his death in any way a hetero employee is able to do so. This is a rather “mundane” assignment of survivor rights.

    Granted, it is forcing the business to recognize gay partnerships. That should not be a problem for the business, unless the business has made a practice to hire gays so they would not have roll over retirement benefits.

    No business with more than a few employees could get away with negotiating retirement benefits on an individual by individual basis. The NLRB would be all over them.

    I want the market to be as free and unregulated as possible. But like any public highway, it must have certain guardrails.

    Comment by heliotrope — January 5, 2009 @ 11:08 am - January 5, 2009

  14. Yes, ILC (#8)….. that was my main point. Sorry if anyone missed it. :)

    Comment by Bruce (GayPatriot) — January 5, 2009 @ 11:55 am - January 5, 2009

  15. Heliotrope, I like your analogy to the public highway system. I see this as a great benefit to gay workers and hope that despite the fact that a Republican president passed this bill – it gets wide acknowledgment in the gay press.

    This is one of those ‘small’ things that will make life easier for many hard working gays. It is a concrete act that will effect many more lives than the changing the definition of marriage.
    Way to go President Bush!

    Comment by Leah — January 5, 2009 @ 12:10 pm - January 5, 2009

  16. Granted, it is forcing the business to recognize gay partnerships.

    Not necessarily. The change is simply this; persuant to the Pension Protection Act of 2006, the government allowed employers to build an option into their benefit plans that provided for a tax-advantaged rollover of any retirement assets upon a person’s death to a designated beneficiary, which before was allowed only to a spouse.

    Now what the law says is that you may no longer limit this rollover to a spouse; instead, you must provide it to anyone who the employee designates as their beneficiary. That could be a domestic partner, but it could also be a nephew, niece, child, elderly parents, friend, or anyone else who you care to designate as your beneficiary. It doesn’t require businesses to recognize gay partnerships as such, it only requires businesses to recognize accrued retirement benefits in the same way as they would unpaid salary — payable to the designated heir or beneficiary of the deceased.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — January 5, 2009 @ 12:26 pm - January 5, 2009

  17. That should not be a problem for the business, unless the business has made a practice to hire gays so they would not have roll over retirement benefits.

    Ironically, the only people who are going to be screwed over by this are the Democrat unions who have their own pension funds — who have historically excluded gay partners. All of the businesses for which I’ve worked made the changeover in 2006 — mainly because it makes good business sense to allow your single heterosexual employees to be able to bequeath their accrued benefits tax free, as well as giving your married couples a second option.

    The entertaining part with this will come when teh gheys realize that domestic partnerships and getting married, especially in a state like California, means that your spouse/partner is entitled to half of your retirement benefits — and that BOTH state and Federal courts will now enforce this when you break up.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — January 5, 2009 @ 12:39 pm - January 5, 2009

  18. Take as much time and space as you like.

    Why, thank you. Glad I have your permission.

    Your comment seems to be denigrating the work of the Democrat Congress. Why would you do that?

    Are you being ironic, facetious, or just dull? I have spent much of my adult life denigrating the ‘work’ of Congress regardless of the party in power. Why? Because I disagree with the vast majority of what they (Congresspersons) do and am alarmed at the power they have assumed. As I am not a Democrat and reside on the right of our political spectrum, it is more likely that I would denigrate a Democrat-led Congress than Republican, but our dear President Bush allows me to be an equal-opportunity denigrator.

    In this case, Bush and the Congress are forcing private institutions to behave a certain way based upon the demands of an identified group. In the private sector, such issues should be handled privately rather than by government force, i.e. via persuasion rather than a bureaucrat’s pen.

    Rights are not subject to vote; I disagree with even the concept of ‘gay rights’. Those on the right who cheer this kind of social engineering are situational conservatives.

    A gay employee who accumulates retirement benefits should certainly be able to direct the benefits…

    I understand you think that is right and proper, but your opinion isn’t at issue.

    I want the market to be as free and unregulated as possible. But like any public highway, it must have certain guardrails.

    I believe government must also have guardrails. Government (particularly at the federal level) forcing business to recognize gay relationships while it does not is hypocritical and goes well beyond its stated mandate. If you want the market to be free, you must accept that certain businesses will not reflect your opinions and values.

    Comment by Ignatius — January 5, 2009 @ 12:48 pm - January 5, 2009

  19. Also, Sarah Palin has done more–by law–to help gays than either Clinton or Obama. Even sweeter irony.

    Comment by Ashpenaz — January 5, 2009 @ 12:50 pm - January 5, 2009

  20. What? No mention of this newsworthy event in the MSM? The same Drive-By Media that believes that Sarah Palin has less experience than Caroline “I’m-entitled-to-my-so-called-birthright” Kennedy Schlossberg?

    And no mention of this newsworthy event from GLAAD or PFLAG or HRC or any one of the alphabet-soup-variety-so-called-gay-rights groups? You know, like when they highlighted the fact that Clinton’s WH aides used rubber gloves when meeting and shaking hands with gay lobbyists?

    Oh, wait, they didn’t mention that little factoid either. My bad.

    Bias? What liberal media bias?

    (Shaking head.)

    These next four years are going to be numbing.

    Regards,
    Peter H.

    Comment by Peter Hughes — January 5, 2009 @ 2:54 pm - January 5, 2009

  21. In this case, Bush and the Congress are forcing private institutions to behave a certain way based upon the demands of an identified group.

    Which “identified group” Ignatius? As NDT pointed out, the beneficiary can be anyone one specifies.

    Also, Sarah Palin has done more–by law–to help gays than either Clinton or Obama. Even sweeter irony.

    I don’t know, Ashpenaz. If you said Alaska’s AG, I might agree with you. And we’ll see what Obama does. Not holding my breath though.

    Comment by Pat — January 5, 2009 @ 4:12 pm - January 5, 2009

  22. HRC put out a news release on this. Log Cabin was silent.

    Comment by anon — January 5, 2009 @ 4:15 pm - January 5, 2009

  23. Thank you, President Bush.

    Comment by Attmay — January 5, 2009 @ 4:34 pm - January 5, 2009

  24. Like Harry Reid is now taking credit for the surge, Obambi will soon pop in and take credit for this.

    Comment by Tom — January 5, 2009 @ 4:50 pm - January 5, 2009

  25. [...] 5, 2009 · No Comments I’m sending you over to Gay Patriot here for full details, but President Bush (yes, I won’t call him King George today because [...]

    Pingback by President Bush Does More For Gay Rights Than Any Other President « On Freedom’s Wings — January 5, 2009 @ 5:45 pm - January 5, 2009

  26. kudos to bush for throwing the gays a bone (ha!), but i don’t agree with your conclusion that his administration has been more gay-friendly than clinton’s. granted, DADT was a disappointment (though it was a marginal improvement), and DOMA was indefensible. but clinton’s record on GLBT legislation runs deeper. clinton approved hate crime legislation protecting gays, appointed the first openly gay ambassador, and extended non-discrimination protections to GLBT folks in the federal government, amongst other initiatives. moreover, as bad as DOMA is, at least clinton stopped short of advocating a federal marriage amendment. the same can’t be said for bush. finally, a semantic point–can it fairly be said that DOMA took away rights? gays couldn’t legally marry prior to DOMA; all DOMA did was make that prohibition explicit.

    Comment by Chad — January 5, 2009 @ 7:36 pm - January 5, 2009

  27. Missing here seems to be a “Thank You” to the Democratic Congress who passed the bill in the first place.

    Big surprise.

    There were no gay rights bill for Clinton to sign as President because he had a hostile, anti-gay Congress controlled by the Republicans (and southern Democrats for the first two years of his Administration.)

    But now that The South has been marginalized at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, we are going to see movement on long stalled initiatives important to our community.

    Comment by Erik — January 5, 2009 @ 8:03 pm - January 5, 2009

  28. Ignatius, I may be reading this wrong (I AM on cold medication today) but this legislation doesn’t seem to “mandate” how business treats its employees. If an employee is allowed to pass his retirement benefits to someone else upon his death, what does a business care whether the benefits are “rolled over” (further deferring taxes) or inherited (incurring taxes upon employee’s death). The only loser in this deal is Government, which loses income it would have received at the time of the employee’s death.

    Congress is already squirming and complaining about current income lost to deferred-taxation accounts. If this legislation sticks it to anyone, it sticks it to Congress, which feels taxes should be collected early and often.

    Personally, I love it.

    Comment by Polly — January 5, 2009 @ 8:10 pm - January 5, 2009

  29. by signing this into law, President George W. Bush has, by law, done more for gays than any other President in history.

    Doesn’t count, Bruce, don’t you know that?

    G W Bush is an anti-gay evangelical. Nothing he does can count as pro-homosexual. ;)

    Comment by Classical Liberal Dave — January 5, 2009 @ 10:05 pm - January 5, 2009

  30. Missing here seems to be a “Thank You” to the Democratic Congress who passed the bill in the first place.

    Actually, the Pension Protection Act, which created this concept in the first place and of which the WRERA is a clarification, was passed in 2006, when Republicans were firmly in control of Congress — and over the objections of many Democrats like Harry Reid.

    There were no gay rights bill for Clinton to sign as President because he had a hostile, anti-gay Congress controlled by the Republicans (and southern Democrats for the first two years of his Administration.)

    Which is why he signed both DADT and DOMA instead of vetoing them, as he had the power to do and didn’t. Thank you, Erik, for making it obvious the degree to which you will prostitute yourself to protect your massas, even to the point of throwing your own Congressional Democrats under the bus.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — January 6, 2009 @ 12:40 am - January 6, 2009

  31. Jeb did the same, a few years back, after a lesbian police officer was shot and killed in TPA.

    but clinton’s record on GLBT legislation runs deeper.

    Does all that excuse his daydreaming during meetings with “gay leaders”? Rich Tafel has written that BJ’s WH staff wore latex gloves to welcome those leaders. Does “I feel your pain” excuse all that?

    BTW, who’s keeping tabs on the number of gay media outlets Comrade Obama has granted interviews to?

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — January 6, 2009 @ 1:05 am - January 6, 2009

  32. But now that The South has been marginalized at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, we are going to see movement on long stalled initiatives important to our community.

    I wasnt aware that California, where gay marriage went down in flames was part of the south. (or WA, OR, NV, AZ etc, etc, etc for that matter)

    Comment by American Elephant — January 6, 2009 @ 1:38 am - January 6, 2009

  33. Or that crack improves one’s orientation to reality.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — January 6, 2009 @ 6:36 am - January 6, 2009

  34. Um… sorry – a bit schizophrenic in the final days … no? First he lets medical professionals let their morals guide their treatments -then he throws a bone. Um.. anyone else in their careers allowed to simply “not” do their jobs because of moral objections? Sorry General – i can’t fire the weapon because killing is wrong.. sorry Mr. Bank President – i cant’ charge interest because its against the bible – sorry Ms. Stewart – but I can’t wear weather and cotton at the same time….. Laughable.

    Comment by tommyz — January 6, 2009 @ 8:39 am - January 6, 2009

  35. Um.. anyone else in their careers allowed to simply “not” do their jobs because of moral objections?

    Yes, millions of people. Ever see the sign “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone”?

    Its actually called “freedom”, you might want to look it up.

    Moreover, your comparison of forcing pharmacists to get into the liberal slaughter business after they have already chosen their careers to people who know full well the duties of their chosen professions before getting in is asinine.

    Comment by American Elephant — January 6, 2009 @ 8:48 am - January 6, 2009

  36. Liberals are so used to the mush of moral equivalence they can’t understand that not all moral values are equal. A moral objection to the taking of an innocent human life is very different than objection to killing an enemy in wartime. (Which, BTW, people are allowed to opt out of by becoming a “Conscientious Objector.”)

    Second, in a free market, a woman who really wants to kill her unborn baby can simply go to someone else who has no moral compunction about it.

    Comment by V the K — January 6, 2009 @ 11:02 am - January 6, 2009

  37. I wasnt aware that California, where gay marriage went down in flames was part of the south.

    Gay marriage is not our only legislative issue.

    Thank you, Erik, for making it obvious the degree to which you will prostitute yourself to protect your massas, even to the point of throwing your own Congressional Democrats under the bus.

    NDT – you’re an intolerable prick, so I don’t respond to your comments.

    Comment by Erik — January 6, 2009 @ 12:52 pm - January 6, 2009

  38. NDT – you’re an intolerable prick, so I don’t respond to your comments.

    LOL, you just did. And you managed to name-call while implicitly conceding the point. Well done.

    Comment by V the K — January 6, 2009 @ 1:08 pm - January 6, 2009

  39. Gay marriage is not our only legislative issue.

    Sure. The leftist gays like Erik whine and scream about “hate crimes” while they hang Sarah Palin in effigy, and they complain about needing protection from “employment discrimination” while demanding that people be fired over $100 donations to causes they don’t like.

    And I’m sure I’m intolerable to you, Erik; liberals rarely, if ever, can tolerate anyone who dares to challenge them or their errors.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — January 6, 2009 @ 1:18 pm - January 6, 2009

  40. #36 – Erik vomited:

    “Gay marriage is not our only legislative issue.”

    Then name a few others. I double-dog dare you to identify at least ONE legislative issue that is not directly attributed to your identity politics.

    Go ahead. We’re waiting.

    Regards,
    Peter H.

    Comment by Peter Hughes — January 6, 2009 @ 1:58 pm - January 6, 2009

  41. #36 – Erik, I know NDT. I also know intolerable pricks. NDT is not an intolerable prick. You, sir, on the other hand, are indeed an intolerable prick.

    Regards,
    Peter H.

    Comment by Peter Hughes — January 6, 2009 @ 1:59 pm - January 6, 2009

  42. Nah, Erik’s not that intolerable.

    Comment by V the K — January 6, 2009 @ 3:08 pm - January 6, 2009

  43. Okay V, I’ll just re-post my observations without the word “intolerable.”

    ;-)

    Regards,
    Peter H.

    Comment by Peter Hughes — January 6, 2009 @ 6:25 pm - January 6, 2009

  44. Well, now. Does this mean that the partner of a gay military person, retired, can now claim the benefits that my mom got as a widow? WOW. I may dump my partner of 25 years and find a nice retired rear admiral. Or something.

    Seriously, I do pray that such benefits are available to widows/widowers of retired military.

    This, however, brings up another point. What about the benefits enjoyed by military families across the nation? Will the partner of a deceased military person be entitled to commisary and px privileges? Champus? VA Hospital care?

    These are all part and parcel of retirement benefits.

    I sincerely doubt that claims for these benefits will float. Not seeing the law itself, I can only assume that it just means pension benefits in this case.

    Comment by Leonidas — January 6, 2009 @ 7:05 pm - January 6, 2009

  45. [...] Gay Patriot says it best: “[B]y signing this into law, President George W. Bush has, by law, done more for gays than [...]

    Pingback by The International House of Bacon » Blog Archive » Link Dumping — January 15, 2009 @ 8:07 am - January 15, 2009

  46. Bruce — I want to quote your recent comment regarding the Employer Recovery Act that Bush signed last month but also ask you what other things you would point to in assessing Bush’s legacy –with regards to the LGBT community. Can you email me? -Lisa

    Comment by Lisa Keen — January 15, 2009 @ 9:05 am - January 15, 2009

  47. [...] Gay Rights Law: I can barely believe it myself, but on December 23 Bush signed into law the the Worker, Retiree and Employer Recovery Act of 2008, which makes it mandatory for businesses [...]

    Pingback by ZoBox Politix » Blog Archive » Sympathy for the Devil — January 21, 2009 @ 3:22 pm - January 21, 2009

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