The Social Security Administration reversed course Monday and said it will accept marriage licenses issued to heterosexual couples in two communities that allowed weddings for same-sex couples earlier this year. The agency initially rejected all marriage certificates issued during the brief periods when officials in Asbury Park, N.J., Multnomah County, Ore., New Paltz, N.Y., and Sandoval County, N.M., wedded same-sex couples.
Effective Monday, the agency is accepting legally issued marriage documents from Multnomah County and New Paltz as evidence of identification on applications for new Social Security cards or to prove marriage for benefits purposes. The status of marriage certificates issued in the other two municipalities remains unchanged unless legal issues are resolved. None of the same-sex couples in New Paltz received a marriage license because the town clerk's office refused to issue one. The Social Security agency said "notarized affidavits" such as those issued to same-sex couples are not valid forms of identification.
The issue first came to light after heterosexual couples who married in New Paltz after February 27--the day Mayor Jason West conducted the first same-sex marriages there--tried to obtain new Social Security cards and were told their marriage certificates were not recognized. Susie Kilpatrick of New Paltz said the local Social Security office told her that no marriage documents issued after February 27 could be used to establish identity because of the same-sex marriages that took place there earlier this year. About 125 heterosexual couples have been married since then. Kilpatrick said her marriage certificate was rejected when she went to get a new card earlier this month so she could take her husband's name.