For people who aren’t familiar, MAPSA is the Marriage Access for People with Special Abilities Act. This particular piece of legislation was introduced by Congressman John Katko of the 24th district of New York and Congressman Bill Keating of the 9th district of Massachusetts. This bill clearly states the challenges that individuals who have intellectual and developmental disabilities face. We want to get married and keep our crucial benefits!
MAPSA is so very important to me because one of my long-term goals is to get married someday and start a family. But first I need to find that boyfriend! I also have much needed benefits such as Medicare, Medicaid and SSI. These benefits are also important to me. I don’t want to lose them. So, I am between marrying the person I love and my crucial benefits. I want to be able to keep both but I know right now that is not reality.
If this legislation is not passed, I am unable to marry the person that I love and at the same time keep my vital benefits. At this time, if two individuals with Down syndrome or other intellectual and developmental disabilities decide to get married their incomes will be combined and will then be above our maximum income levels so we lose our valuable, much needed benefits like social security and Medicaid. MAPSA will change that.
Back in 2018, I talked to my local Congressman (Congressman Katko) and I told him I want to get married. The Congressman and I have a great relationship. He said “What, you’re getting married?!” I told him I am not getting married yet but this is what is really going on. I told him about MAPSA and asked him if he would introduce this bill. He then introduced this bill when we were on March 5th, 2019 during our Buddy Walk® on Washington Advocacy Day. I couldn’t be any happier that he did. MAPSA is so essential!
Valentine’s Day and the month of February are for love and equality. NDSS and our advocates want to show our lawmakers how to support those with Down syndrome who want to get married and tell them how important it is to us. NDSS started a campaign called #Twee4rLove telling lawmakers to support marriage equality for everyone with Down syndrome and intellectual and developmental disabilities. My friends, families, advocates and self-advocates are tweeting their videos or sending cards to their local Members of Congress to support them in their efforts to get MAPSA passed. Share YOUR story and why MAPSA is so important with #TweetForLove HERE.