Political Intelligence

Lynch, only Mass. congressman not to sign letter asking Supreme Court to overturn DOMA, blames e-mail glitch

The entire Massachusetts congressional delegation except Representative Stephen Lynch signed onto a brief today asking the US Supreme Court to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, a distinction that Lynch’s office said was not a political statement but the result of an e-mail glitch.

Eight of the nine House members and both US senators from Massachusetts joined 202 other mostly Democratic members of Congress in signing the brief, which was organized in the House by Democratic leadership.

That included Representative Edward Markey – Lynch’s Democratic rival in the special election to replace former senator John F. Kerry—who issued a statement touting the brief and challenging the constitutionality of DOMA, which restricts marriage in the eyes of the federal government to a legal union between a man and a woman.

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“It’s long past time to abolish DOMA and send this discriminatory law to the pages of the history books,” Markey said.

Lynch’s congressional office indicated that he would have signed the brief if he had known about it, but Democratic leaders were unable to get through to his staff:

“As a result of an e-mail miscommunication, our office was not made aware that the amicus brief was being circulated. Congressman Lynch has long opposed the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and believes that DOMA is unconstitutional. Congressman Lynch has also consistently co-sponsored the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal DOMA,” spokeswoman Meaghan Maher said in an e-mailed statement.

In a follow-up tweet, Lynch campaign spokesman Conor Yunits called the e-mail glitch “convenient given D.C. effort to choose candidate.” Much of the Democratic establishment in Washington threw its support behind Markey in the opening days of the race.

In 1996, Markey was among a minority in Congress that refused to support DOMA, which passed overwhelmingly at the time.

Lynch, then a state legislator known for conservative views on gay rights, has since had a noted change in his beliefs.

In the last two sessions of Congress, both Lynch and Markey have signed on as cosponsors of a bill seeking to repeal DOMA through the legislative process, known as the Respect for Marriage Act.

Last year, Lynch received a score of 90 out of 100 from from the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group for gay rights. But he was the only Democrat in the state’s congressional delegation not to receive a perfect score of 100.

Lynch was dinged for not supporting two pieces of legislation backed by the Human Rights Campaign: a proposal seeking to bestow the same immigration benefits to gay immigrants as those enjoyed by heterosexuals, and an extension of spousal health care and other benefits to federal civilian employees. Senator Scott Brown, at the time the lone Republican in the delegation, scored 55 out of 100.

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