By Daniel Borgen, PQ Monthly
There’s a man on a mission — a serious one. Jim Casey wants to educate you and every other gay out there about the financial realities the LGBTQ community, as a whole, faces. He wants you to understand the specific ways in which federal and state governments manage to bilk you out of exorbitant amounts of money — simply because of whom you love. While most of us have a vague idea that the government is sort of perpetually screwing us — and not in any fun way — many are overwhelmed by or simply don’t understand the specifics.
Enter “The High Cost of Being Gay,” an in-depth, comprehensive presentation and educational tool created by Casey that offers same-sex couples an outline of “the financial hurdles they may encounter throughout their life, as well as tools and solutions that may help mitigate the costs.”
A little background on Casey, who is president and CEO of Southern California-based Integrated Wealth Management: he’s a man committed to equality, incredibly active in non-profits and charities, and he remains on what some might call a crusade to end the financial disadvantages queers all around the country face. He’s a philanthropist, an activist, a man of means who is dedicated to relentlessly giving back. Anytime he’s asked why he does, he replies, deadpan: “I’d ask others who have the ability why they aren’t.”
His “High Cost” presentation highlights some hard truths. “Tradition tells us that we enter into committed relationships for better or worse, for richer or for poorer,” he told PQ Monthly. “For many gay couples in America, the reality is ‘worse’ and ‘for poorer.’ Even if the state you live in recognizes your marriage, the IRS and federal government do not. From estate taxes and health insurance, to retirement accounts and the pricey preparation of legal documents, most gays and lesbians don’t realize the hard costs and the efforts needed to protect themselves.”
A Federal Club member of the Human Rights Campaign, Casey doesn’t solely focus on the financial specifics. He explores — in depth — the rather heart-wrenching emotional piece of all this.
“Love is not always enough,” Casey said. “No matter the strength of your partnership, unmarried partners don’t enjoy the protection of legal benefits afforded to married couples. In the eyes of the federal government, you’re strangers.”
In terms of the biggest effects his presentation have had on those who’ve seen it, he’s noticed people realizing “the inequities of gift taxes when a same-sex couple deposits money into joint checking accounts as well as the co-mingling of investments.” In layman’s terms, you can be taxed for sharing a checking account. (Just for starters.)
“People are shocked,” Casey said. “They’re shocked we’re financially penalized for doing something that is so simple and common.” And there are lots more revelations where those came from.
The LGBTQ community has seem some serious strides made over the last several months — there’s the repeal of DADT and steps toward undermining DOMA. While Casey applauds and welcomes this significant progress, he makes an important observation: “I think most same-sex couples are not aware that no matter what is passed or progressed, until we receive the same federal recognition as straight married couples, we will not have financial equality.”
The solution? Get involved locally. “Start with talking about the federal inequalities that pertain to a financial situation,” he said, “and shout it everywhere you can.”
Most agree our long road to equality includes a complex, multi-pronged approach — and the fight Casey has brought to the forefront of our consciousness is as integral a part as any.
For more information about Jim Casey’s work and his presentation, go to www.IWMgmt.com or call 866-888-6563, ext. 113. Maybe someone wants to volunteer to bring him to Portland?