WASHINGTON — In a column published this week in the gay-issue newspaper Bay Windows, US Senator John Kerry called for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, and its replacement with legislation to make same sex couples eligible for federal benefits that would include family and medical leave, Social Security spousal and survivors’ benefits, and the ability to file joint federal tax returns.
The 1996 law, typically abbreviated DOMA, defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and says that no US state has to recognize same sex marriages performed in another state.
In his op-ed, Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, said the law is unconstitutional—a conclusion recently reached by the Obama administration, which has announced it would no longer defend challenges to DOMA in federal court.
“My vote against [DOMA] -- which some predicted would cost me reelection in 1996 -- is among my proudest votes as a United States Senator,” Kerry wrote. “But my job in 2011 isn’t to feel good about my vote -- or to boast that fifteen years later, I’m vindicated when at last an American president now agrees that DOMA is unconstitutional.
“No, my job -- and our job together," Kerry wrote, " is to work to undo the damage that DOMA has done in treating loving, committed couples like second class citizens."
Kerry said he is committed to repealing DOMA “as quickly as possible.” He has signed on to legislation seeking to repeal the law, though such a bill would have a difficult time winning approval this session in the Republican-controlled US House.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.