University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Tevyaw v. Colvin PB-RI-0001
Docket / Court 1:14-cv-00425 ( D.R.I. )
State/Territory Rhode Island
Case Type(s) Public Benefits / Government Services
Special Collection Same-Sex Marriage
Attorney Organization GLAD (GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders)
Case Summary
On September 29, 2014, the surviving widow of a same-sex marriage filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island against the Social Security Administration (SSA). The plaintiff, represented by the Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, asked the court to declare that ... read more >
On September 29, 2014, the surviving widow of a same-sex marriage filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island against the Social Security Administration (SSA). The plaintiff, represented by the Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, asked the court to declare that several SSA regulations were invalid and contrary to the governing Social Security statutes, affirm that the plaintiff met the marriage requirements, declare that a person previously married to someone of the same sex met the marriage requirements for Social Security Survivor benefits, so long as the courts of the state the individual resided in would find that the marriage valid, declare that the plaintiffs marriage would have been recognized by Rhode Island, enjoin the defendant to process the plaintiff's application for widow's and lump sum death benefits, and to award the plaintiffs any attorney's fees or costs of suit.

At the time of her wife's death, the plaintiff had been in a same-sex marriage that was formalized in Massachusetts. The plaintiff claimed that on January 17, 2012, the SSA informed her that her marriage did not meet the marriage requirements, and denied her application for benefits. The SSA decision was partially due to the reasoning that the plaintiff's marriage was never a valid marriage under Rhode Island State law. The plaintiff alleged that the SSA violated the rights guaranteed to her by the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Constitution by discriminating on the basis of sex and refusing to recognize same-sex marriages that occurred out-of-state. She further claimed that though Rhode Island had not legalized same-sex marriage, it still recognized marriages validly performed in other states.

According to a press release by GLAD, the plaintiff received $30,000 in back benefits from SSA as a part of a private settlement on December 1, 2014. On December 15, 2014, the plaintiff filed a notice of dismissal with the court.

Megan Dolan - 10/07/2014
Sean Mulloy - 11/06/2017


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Benefit Source
Social Security Retirement and Death Benefit
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Full faith and credit
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-basis
Sex discrimination
Sexual orientatation
General
Disparate Impact
Gay/lesbian/transgender
Marriage
Public benefits (includes, e.g., in-state tuition, govt. jobs)
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Bivens
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) Social Security Administration
Plaintiff Description The plaintiff is the surviving widow of a same-sex marriage who was denied widow's insurance and lump sum death benefits.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations GLAD (GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders)
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Damages
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Case Closing Year 2014
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
  William G. v. Pataki
http://www.bazelon.org/william-g-v-pataki/
Date: 2017
By: The Bazelon Center (The Bazelon Center)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Disability Rights New Jersey v. Velez
http://www.bazelon.org/drnj-v-velez/
Date: 2017
By: The Bazelon Center (The Bazelon Center)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Williams v. Quinn
http://www.bazelon.org/williams-v-quinn/
Date: 2017
By: The Bazelon Center (The Bazelon Center)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  United States of America v. Commonwealth of Virginia
http://www.bazelon.org/u-s-v-virginia/
Date: 2017
By: The Bazelon Center (The Bazelon Center)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  United States of America v. North Carolina
http://www.bazelon.org/u-s-v-north-carolina/
Date: 2017
By: The Bazelon Center (The Bazelon Center)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  U.S. v. Georgia
http://www.bazelon.org/u-s-v-georgia/
Date: 2017
By: The Bazelon Center (The Bazelon Center)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  O'Toole v. Cuomo [Formerly DAI v. Cuomo]
http://www.bazelon.org/otoole-v-cuomo/
Date: 2017
By: The Bazelon Center (The Bazelon Center)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Amanda D. v. Hassan
http://www.bazelon.org/amanda-d-v-hassan/
Date: 2017
By: The Bazelon Center (The Bazelon Center)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:14−cv−00425 (D.R.I.)
PB-RI-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/18/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint For Declaratory, Injunctive, and Other Relief
PB-RI-0001-0001.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 09/29/2014
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
"GLAD Obtains Social Security Survivor Benefits for Disabled RI Widow"
PB-RI-0001-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/04/2014
Judges Smith, William E. (D.R.I.)
PB-RI-0001-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bonauto, Mary L. (Massachusetts)
PB-RI-0001-0001 | PB-RI-0001-9000
Daly, Michael J. (Rhode Island)
PB-RI-0001-0001 | PB-RI-0001-9000
Wu, Janson (Massachusetts)
PB-RI-0001-0001 | PB-RI-0001-9000

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -