Case Summary

IMG_1502.jpg

Wilton Manors, FL - Carol Wartenberg committed to Laura Hohnecker over 30 years ago. Their love was recognized many times in ceremonies both public and private, even while America and the State of Florida didn't affirm it by law.

While employed by the Broward County School Board as school psychologist, Carol signed on to the Florida Retirement System (FRS) Pension Plan to cover her and Laura's retirement.

Four years later, Carol discovered that the pension plan only covered married heterosexual couples. And that in the event of her passing, Laura would be disqualified from receiving her retirement benefits and the savings would be lost.

Despite knowing that she would experience a substantial loss of retirement income and increased financial risk, Carol switched her FRS Pension Plan to the FRS Investment Plan because it allowed her family to receive equal benefits.

Nine years later, the Florida Supreme Court struck down the state's Defense of Marriage act and recognized same-sex marriage. Carol requested that her account be transferred back to the original FRS Pension Plan and was denied.

As a result, Carol and Laura are facing more than $170,000 in lost retirement income over the course of their golden years.

This is intolerable.

We're seeking legal action to reclaim her lost retirement benefits by suing the Broward County School Board and the Florida Retirement System for retirement discrimination. 

To date, we've spent more than $13,000 dollars. We're only getting started. This is very new law and requires a constitutional challenge in the State of Florida. We hope a decision in our favor will help other same-sex families seek compensation if they've been discriminated against under similar circumstances.

 

Consolidated Timeline of Events

Dr. Carol Wartenberg - Plaintiff

Meeting Laura in 1982 was the most important, wonderful event of my life. And if we had our choice, we would have married that very year. 

But in the meantime, we played by the rules. We did our best to do everything right. We wanted to be treated like any other couple.

And when I realized that my partner, my wife, wouldn't be covered by my pension plan, I did the only thing I could to protect her. I played by the rules.

And every time I thought of our diminished retirement,  I grew more angry. We had played by the same rules as everyone else. Everyone else benefited except for my family.

I'm not playing by the rules anymore. We're making our case.

Will you help us?

Carol is a Florida licensed psychologist and 14-year employee of the Broward County School Board where she works as a school psychologist. 

lauracarolflipped.jpg

Dr. Laura Hohnecker - Spouse

Carol has brought out the best in me since we first met through our work in the mental health community. Our shared commitment to the educational, emotional, and psychological welfare of children was present from our first conversations.

Today, I work with children by serving as their guardian and representative in family and dependency courts, while also providing custody evaluation and therapy for children and parents who are estranged from one another.

In hard times, Carol has been my cheerleader. In my good times she has rejoiced.

Carol left private practice partially to ensure that I had security in health insurance and finances after we retired. He decision to opt out of the Florida Retirement system was only for the purpose of trying to ensure my security.

Laura is a Florida licensed psychologist, a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Court mediator, and a certified Guardian ad Litem in Dependency Court and Family Court.

Ryan Walker - Nephew & Communicator

Laura and Carol are my Aunts, and simply the greatest people I know. They've spent their lives helping children, not only through their professional practices, but through the hope they provide to future generations of LGBT people. They are trailblazers in every right, a statement of equal, life-long love.

I'm using every skill I have to see justice delivered on their behalf. If we succeed, it will be because of you and the community that Laura and Carol have given every fiber of their lives to improve.

Ryan graduated Cum Laude from the Missouri School of Journalism in 2015 and works as an advertising creative in Madison, WI.

Will you join us?

Do you have questions? Has something like this happened to you?

Name *
Name

You can also contact us at RetirementEquality@gmail.com