I was so proud to watch Rhode Island, in the spring of 2013, pass legislation that legalized same-sex marriage. It was an affirmation for so many loving couples who had previously been denied the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts.
I have likewise been proud to represent the interests of the LGBT community in Washington.
Just two months after Rhode Island’s enactment of marriage equality, I applauded the Supreme Court’s groundbreaking decision in United States v. Windsor to strike down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that denied federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples. I was proud to support this decision by cosigning a brief filed with the Court in favor of repealing DOMA. There is simply no place for discrimination in our society, and this decision set a new precedent to ensure that same-sex couples receive the same rights, protections and benefits available to all married couples, from Social Security survivor benefits and immigration rights to military and veterans benefits. The Administration has already begun changing regulations to comply with this decision, including an announcement that all legal same-sex marriages will be recognized for federal tax purposes.
These are important steps toward achieving equal rights for all, but we must continue fighting to remove any remaining discriminatory language from federal law. That is why I am an original cosponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act, which would fully repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. I am also proud to be a co-sponsor of the Uniting American Families Act, which would allow US citizens to sponsor same-sex partners for immigration purposes, just as they can sponsor spouses.
I also worked for many years in support of repealing the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, and I am a co-sponsor of the Restore Honor to Service Members Act, which would ensure that members of the armed services who served honorably but were discharged because of their sexual orientation have their records corrected to reflect their honorable service.
Additionally, I have written to Secretary of State John Kerry to applaud the State Department’s efforts to protect LGBT individuals abroad and to express my concerns about the treatment of athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia.
Going forward, I will continue to join all supporters of LGBT rights in fighting for equal justice, fair treatment and inclusion throughout all aspects of our society.