For Immediate Release

March 27, 2014

Treasurer McCord Supports Same-Sex Couple in Unprecedented U.S. District Court Filing

State marriage law results in unequal financial treatment under Treasury programs

Harrisburg – State Treasurer Rob McCord has petitioned federal court for permission to submit a friend-of-the-court brief in a pending marital rights case, seeking to ensure the court receives the balanced perspective of a statewide elected executive who is able to identify specific issues in which same-sex couples are deprived of equal treatment under the law when accessing state-sponsored programs and benefits.

In the amicus brief attached to the filing with the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, McCord sided with plaintiffs Cara Palladino and Isabelle Barker in arguing that the law should be overturned as unconstitutional. In doing so, he is the first state elected official to challenge Pennsylvania's Marriage Law formally in a legal proceeding. He is also one of the few officials in the country to engage in a same-sex marriage case based upon his financially-related legal responsibilities.

"As treasurer, I oversee a broad range of public programs and benefits. Too often, our state's marriage law forces me to implement these programs and convey benefits in ways that may deprive people of their equal rights. I believe that is morally wrong and should be illegal. The statute places me in the untenable -- and personally disturbing -- position of enforcing and complying with a discriminatory law," McCord said.

The state Treasury administers several programs in which spousal rights frequently have a bearing. By formally stating that marriage in Pennsylvania is between one man and one woman, the state's marriage law establishes two distinct classes of couples: those whose marriages are recognized as a matter of state law and those whose marriages are not. It thereby excludes same-sex couples from access to some of the rights, privileges, and legal presumptions attached to marriages the state recognizes. That is true even if the marriage is valid in other states or foreign jurisdictions.

Although McCord chose to file the brief based upon his official view of the legal inequalities and injustices evident in the way the law must be applied to Treasury Department programs, he also noted that his own experience would incline him to support the plaintiffs' case.

"This issue of marriage equality is personal for me. My own interracial marriage, had it occurred when I was born (and not 27 years later), would have been illegal in many states," McCord said.

"Instead of violating civil rights, we should be celebrating Pennsylvania's historic leading role in protecting and promoting the civil rights that relate to marriage equality," McCord said. He pointed out in his filing that Pennsylvania was once a leader in removing laws that selectively granted the right to marry only to certain classes of citizens. In 1780, Pennsylvania became the first state to repeal its anti-miscegenation law, removing any legal impediment to interracial marriage. It was not until 1967, however, with the United States Supreme Court decision in Loving v. Virginia, that such prohibitions were declared unconstitutional in all states.

In his brief to the U.S. District Court, McCord wrote: "Litigation before this Court revisits the issue of state laws that selectively recognize marital rights, replacing racially based barriers with a newly identified obstacle -- sexual orientation."

From his unique perspective as treasurer, McCord detailed to the court in his brief how the Pennsylvania Marriage Law denies financial benefits to same-sex spouses. Those include matters falling under the state unclaimed property law, establishing and transferring Pennsylvania 529 College Savings accounts, accessing retirement benefits, and receiving disparate treatment in tax appeals.

In the example of unclaimed property, one means by which individuals may be entitled to claim property is by establishing a legal relationship with a deceased owner. In cases where there is no will, Treasury can, under certain circumstances, distribute the property to the surviving spouse. In a variety of situations, however, the survivor in a same-sex marriage cannot establish an entitlement to the property under Pennsylvania law, and as a result, Treasury is forced to deny the spouse's claim.

Concerning PA 529 College Savings accounts, if an account owner dies without a will and the beneficiary is a minor, ownership passes to the surviving spouse. Because Pennsylvania law does not recognize same-sex marriage, however, a same-sex spouse would not become the successor owner. By comparison, a spouse in an opposite-sex marriage would control the account.

In addition, by virtue of his elected office, the treasurer is a member of the boards of the two largest state public retirement plans, the State Employees Retirement System (SERS) and the Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS). One responsibility of the board is to pay death benefits to designated beneficiaries upon the death of a member. If the member did not designate a beneficiary and the board is not notified to pay the estate, then the board is authorized to pay benefits to the executor, administrator, surviving spouse or next of kin. A same-sex spouse may not be entitled to benefits under those circumstances, but an opposite-sex spouse would.

he treasurer is also the statutory chair of the Board of Finance and Revenue (BF&R), which hears and resolves appeals of tax state matters. Marriage law in Pennsylvania has a significant impact on tax rates. In some cases, transactions or transfers of property are tax-free or taxed at a lower rate when they occur between spouses. When appeals arise, BF&R cannot apply the same rules to same-sex couples that it applies to opposite-sex marriage.

"Beyond the basic right itself to marry, there are many financial implications to the current state marriage law. As I carry out my duties as treasurer, I witness directly the injustice it imposes on same-sex spouses. I am respectfully asking the court to end that injustice and allow the Treasury Department to treat everyone equally under the law," McCord concluded.

For more information, visit www.patreasury.gov.

Media contact: Gary Tuma, 717-787-2465 or

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The Pennsylvania Treasury is an independent department of state government led by the state treasurer, who is elected every four years. The department's primary duty is to safeguard and manage the state's public funds. It invests state money to generate income on behalf of the citizens of Pennsylvania, reviews and processes payments for state government agencies, and serves as custodian of more than $100 billion in state funds. Key Treasury programs include Unclaimed Property, PA 529 College Savings Program and the Board of Finance and Revenue.

To learn more visit patreasury.gov.

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December 12, 2012

Treasurer McCord Questions Legality of Payments to Private Manager for Lottery Expansion

December 6, 2012

Treasurer McCord Announces Appointment of Gary Tuma as Communications Director

November 20, 2012

Boost College Savings with Holiday Shopping through Upromise Rewards this Year, Urges PA Treasurer McCord

November 20, 2012

Treasurer McCord: Great "Cyber Monday” Gifts Only a Click Away at Treasury’s eBay Store

November 9, 2012

‘Make the Pledge, Keep the Promise’ Sweepstakes Gives Families Chance to Win $150,000 for College, Says Treasurer McCord

November 8, 2012

Treasurer McCord Says Nearly $163,000 Available for Claim by Veterans, Military Service Organizations

October 30, 2012

PA Treasurer McCord: Certain Priority Payments Sent in Advance of Hurricane Sandy May Arrive Early; Verify Printed Pay Date First

October 24, 2012

Treasurer McCord Outlines Latest Effort to Make Board of Finance and Revenue More Taxpayer-friendly with Online Access to Select Past Decisions

October 23, 2012

Treasurer McCord, Eagles’ Maclin, and Visa Team Up to Drive Home Personal Finance Lessons with Philadelphia Students

October 22, 2012

Treasurer McCord Sets Out to Reunite Fire, EMS Companies with Nearly $700,000 in Unclaimed Property during National Fire Prevention Month

October 19, 2012

Treasurer McCord Reminds Families 529 Plans Offer Great Tax Benefits, Create Lasting Legacy

October 16, 2012

Treasurer McCord Teams Up with Visa, NFL to Improve Financial Education Among Pennsylvania’s Students

October 11, 2012

Treasurer McCord Reunites Francisvale Home for Smaller Animals with Nearly $35,000 in Property During Visit to Nation’s Oldest No-kill Shelter

September 28, 2012

New Pew Report Finds Growing Student Loan Burden; Treasurer McCord Calls Saving a Better, More Affordable Alternative

September 25, 2012

Treasurer McCord to Farmers and Emergency Responders: Application Deadline Nears for Liquid Fuel Tax Rebates

September 20, 2012

PA Treasurer McCord, Carnegie Science Center Celebrate "College Savings Month" With Discounted Admission September 29-30 

September 12, 2012

PA 529 Plan Offers Great Incentives to Help Families during “College Savings Month,” says Treasurer Rob McCord

September 7, 2012

Treasurer McCord: See If Loved Ones Are Owed Unclaimed Property this ‘Grandparents Day’

August 30, 2012

Keystone HELP Program Hits 10,000, 2012 Loan Milestone; Continues to Create Jobs, Save Homeowners Money, and Clean Environment, says Treasurer McCord

August 22, 2012

Treasurer McCord: Save for College with PA 529 Plan before Higher Tuition Rates Take Effect September 1

August 17, 2012

PA Treasurer McCord Returns $1,500 in Unclaimed Property to Washington County Fair; Says Another $8 Million Available for Claim in County

August 16, 2012

PA Treasurer McCord Returns Over $16,600 to Cambria County from Previously Unclaimed Property

August 16, 2012

PA Treasurer McCord: It’s “Shark Week” – Take a Bite at Unclaimed Property

August 10, 2012

PA Treasurer McCord Returns Over $24,500 to Luzerne County from Previously Unclaimed Property

August 7, 2012

Treasurer McCord Says More Families Saving with PA 529 College Savings Program at Record Levels

August 1, 2012

Treasurer McCord Sets Out to Help Pennsylvanians Achieve Financial Freedom with Free Online Learning Series

July 16, 2012

PA Treasury to Mail 40,000 Letters to Potential Owners of New Unclaimed Property, Says Treasurer McCord

July 9, 2012

Treasurer McCord Sets Out to Make Important Tax Appeal Board More Accessible, Useful to Public

June 29, 2012

Treasurer McCord, Nationwide Coalition Urge Greater Diversity on Corporate Boards

June 28, 2012

PA Treasurer McCord Says Nearly $238 Million in Property Tax, Rent Rebates to be Issued July 2

June 20, 2012

PA Treasurer McCord Returns Over $49,000 in Unclaimed Property to Montgomery County to Support Vital Services, Reduce the Cost of Government

June 5, 2012

Treasurer McCord Assesses PA Lottery Performance, other States’ Experience with Lottery Privatization, Expansion in Latest Quarterly Report

May 29, 2012

Treasurer McCord, PA 529 Program 'Go Bananas' at Philadelphia, Pittsburgh Zoos for '529 Day'

May 16, 2012

Treasurer McCord Says PA 529 College Savings Plans Great Way to Prepare for Rising Higher Education Costs

May 15, 2012

Treasurer McCord: PA Treasury Seeks to Return Over $78,000 in Unclaimed Property to Local Police Departments

April 12, 2012

PA Treasury Settlement Agreement with Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office Makes $23.4 Million in Unclaimed Property Available for Claim

April 11, 2012

PA Treasurer McCord: As Statutory Unclaimed Property Reporting Deadline Nears, Treasury Records Highest March Collections in Last Seven Years

April 2, 2012

PA Treasury Working to Return Over $1.3 Million in Unclaimed Property to Places of Worship, Faith-based Organizations, Says Treasurer McCord

March 23, 2012

PA Treasurer McCord Returns Over $12,000 in Unclaimed Property to Pittsburgh Public Schools; Says 33 Other Allegheny County Districts Owed $89,000

March 14, 2012

Treasurer McCord Offers Additional Reforms to Improve PA’s “Broken” Capital Budget Process

March 13, 2012

PA Treasurer McCord: Find Your “Pot O’ Gold” with Treasury’s Unclaimed Property Program

March 6, 2012

PA Treasurer McCord Says Over $110,000 in Unclaimed Property Seized For Overdue Child Support via Partnership with Department of Public Welfare

March 1, 2012

PA Treasurer McCord: Nearly Half a Million Dollars from Failed U.S. Banks Possibly Owed to Pennsylvanians

February 29, 2012

PA Treasurer McCord: Treasury’s Unclaimed Property eBay Auction Features Antique Books in Time for “Read Across America Day” on March 2

February 28, 2012

Treasurer McCord Says National Report Ranks PA 529 Investment Plan in Top-tier for Performance

February 23, 2012

Treasurer McCord’s Latest Economic Report Assesses PA’s Revenue Collections, Employment Picture

February 16, 2012

PA Treasurer McCord: Over $72,600 in Unclaimed Property Due to African American Organizations, Institutions

January 20, 2012

Treasurer McCord, Coalition for Accountability in Political Spending Call on SEC to Develop Transparency Regulation

January 9, 2012

PA Treasurer McCord: Get the Most Out of Gift Cards, Keep Them From Becoming Unclaimed Property

December 27, 2011

Treasurer McCord: Only Days Remain to Save Tax Dollars by Saving for College

December 20, 2011

PA Treasurer Rob McCord Says Santa and Rudolph Have Unclaimed Property – You Might, Too!

December 19, 2011

Treasurer McCord: Make Pennsylvania 529 College Savings Program Part of Year-End Tax Planning

December 15, 2011

PA Treasurer Rob McCord Returns $1,500 in Unclaimed Property, Presents $400 Donation from Treasury Employees to Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank

December 8, 2011

Treasurer McCord: Consider Giving Higher Education Savings as a Gift this Holiday

November 28, 2011

Latest McCord Report Examines Pennsylvania’s Debt Situation, Says State Treasurer Rob McCord

November 23, 2011

Treasurer McCord: Holiday Shopping with Upromise Can Boost College Savings

November 20, 2011

Treasurer McCord: Bookmark Treasury’s eBay Store to Search for Great Gifts on "Cyber Monday”

November 16, 2011

Treasurer McCord Lauds Federal Government’s Recognition of AFC First Financial; Says Future Keystone HELP Projects Will Benefit

November 10, 2011

PA Treasurer McCord: Treasury Holds Over $315,000 in Unclaimed Property Belonging to Vets, Service Members, and Veterans’ Organizations

October 20, 2011

PA Treasurer McCord Delivers 1,300 Unclaimed Stuffed Toys to Comfort Patients at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC

October 5, 2011

PA Treasurer McCord Unveils Innovative Energy Efficiency Program to Help Colleges Finance Money-Saving, Job-Creating Energy Efficiency Projects

September 27, 2011

Treasurer McCord Applauds PA Legislature’s Recognition of September as “College Savings Month;” Offers Free Online Enrollment in PA 529 Plan

September 21, 2011

PA Treasurer McCord Says Farmers, Volunteer Fire and EMS Squads Have Until October 31 to Submit Liquid Fuel Tax Rebates

September 20, 2011

Treasurer McCord: Market Analysis Finds Gaming Industry Generally Performing as Expected; Identifies Competitive Threats, New Potential Markets

September 15, 2011

PA Treasury, DEP Lower Rates on Popular Loan Program to Help Flood Victims Replace Damaged Property with More Energy Efficient Equipment

September 13, 2011

PA Treasurer McCord Donates Unclaimed Beanie Baby Toys to Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital

September 9, 2011

PA Treasury: Despite Flood-Related Office Closures, Citizens Awaiting Millions from State Will Receive Payments On Time

August 31, 2011

PA Treasurer McCord, L&I Secretary Hearthway Say Unemployment Insurance Debit Cardholders to Save $3.5 Million Under New Service Terms

August 29, 2011

Treasurer McCord: Only Days Remain to “Beat the Tuition Rate Increase” with PA 529 Guaranteed Savings Plan

August 17, 2011

Treasurer McCord Highlights Strong Year-End PA 529 College Savings Plan Performance; Urges Families to Save Before Credit Rates Jump September 1

August 9, 2011

Treasurer McCord: Kids Grow Up Fast, But Tuition Grows Faster; Keep Pace With PA 529 Guaranteed Savings Plan

August 8, 2011

State Treasurer Rob McCord Warns Consumers About Fraudulent Email Promising Millions in Unclaimed Property

August 1, 2011

Treasurer McCord:  Latest Quarterly Economic Report Focuses on PA’s Transportation Challenges

June 28, 2011

McCord Treasury Readying $240 Million in Property Tax, Rent Rebates for PA’s Citizens

June 22, 2011

Treasurer McCord Reunites Erie City School District with Over $20,000 in Unclaimed Property; Says More Awaits Other Schools, Districts Across PA

June 7, 2011

Treasurer McCord: You Don’t Have To Be a Super Hero To Claim What’s Yours

May 25, 2011

Treasurer McCord Proposes Plan to Repay $63.9 Million in Loans from Property Tax Relief Reserve Fund

May 16, 2011

Latest “McCord Report” Examines Higher Education in PA, Impact on Students and Economy

April 28, 2011

Power Loss Disrupts PA Treasury’s Unclaimed Property Phone, Claim Systems

April 12, 2011

Treasurer McCord Says Payday Loan Alternative Helping People Save Money, Rebuild Personal Finances

April 6, 2011

Treasurer McCord, Women and Girls Foundation Recognize Leading Pittsburgh Corporations for Female Board Representation

March 23, 2011

PA Treasury Webinars To Help Employers Comply With State Unclaimed Property Law By April 15

February 24, 2011

PA Treasurer McCord:  Innovative Payday Lending Alternative Saves PA Consumers $15 Million

February 23, 2011

Pennsylvania Treasury, Department of Auditor General Celebrate African American Heritage and Culture

February 15, 2011

Treasurer McCord: Saving Even A Little Can Mean A Lot!

January 25, 2011

2010: Treasurer McCord Announces Record-Breaking Year for College Savings in Pennsylvania

January 20, 2011

Treasurer McCord Hails Commonwealth Court Order Opening Gaming Board's Executive Sessions

January 6, 2011

Gaming Board Defies Court, Wastes Taxpayer Money to Keep McCord Out of its Closed-Door Meetings