Republican Gabriel Gomez and Democrat Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA05) each won their U.S. Senate primaries in Massachusetts on Tuesday. While Rep. Markey is well known as a longtime, rock-solid supporter of LGBT equality, Mr. Gomez has remained vague about his views beyond his support for the freedom to marry. It’s time for Mr. Gomez to start getting specific.
Rep. Markey has an entire LGBT section in the issues portion of his campaign website. With it he demonstrates his understanding that the freedom to marry is only one of many legislative issues important to his LGBT constituents, and his dedication to making progress on those issues. Here is an excerpt:
Ed voted against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which discriminates against same-sex couples and denies them federal benefits. Ed has also signed onto an amicus brief arguing DOMA is unconstitutional and should be struck down. He co-sponsored the Respect for Marriage Act that would repeal DOMA and require the federal government to recognize the validity of same-sex marriages.
Ed has co-sponsored six bills to ban employment discrimination, legislation to change the tax code to allow domestic partners to qualify for employer-provided insurance, and supported legislation to provide spousal health care, retirement and other benefits to all federal employees in same-sex domestic partnerships.
And he cosponsored legislation to provide same-sex partners of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents the same immigration benefits that heterosexual spouses currently enjoy.
Mr. Gomez, in contrast, placed a Marriage section on his issues list, but makes no mention of other LGBT-related issues or legislation. Here is the entire section:
I oppose discrimination of any kind. Same sex couples should be free to marry.
Opposing discrimination of any kind is laudable, but it isn’t the same as backing bills to prohibit discrimination, as Rep. Markey has done. This distinction is important because Mr. Gomez has already stated that he believes states should be able to pass marriage discrimination laws. “This is a state issue…You know, the people of California spoke. And while I don’t agree with what they did, you need to respect what the states decide on a state-by-state issue,” he said of Prop 8 during a debate in March.
What voters deserve to know is, if elected to the U.S. Senate, would Mr. Gomez be equally permissive of states that continue to allow discrimination against LGBT workers, for example? It is currently legal to fire or refuse to hire gay workers in 29 states and transgender workers in 34 states.
If elected, would Mr. Gomez co-sponsor the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people against employment discrimination? ENDA, which was reintroduced in the Senate last week, “would bar companies from factoring sexual orientation or gender identity into employment decisions. Employers are already prohibited by federal law from discriminating over race, religion, age, gender or disability,” reports Huffington Post.
Massachusetts already has LGBT anti-discrimination laws on the books that are more comprehensive than ENDA, so supporting ENDA should be a straightforward choice for a senator representing Massachusetts. Rep. Markey is a co-sponsor of ENDA.
And what of other federal LGBT-related legislation that Rep. Markey has co-sponsored? If elected, would Mr. Gomez co-sponsor the Respect For Marriage Act, which would fully repeal DOMA? How about the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act, the Tax Parity for Health Plan Beneficiaries Act, or the Uniting American Families Act?
Are there LGBT-related bills that Mr. Gomez would co-sponsor that Rep. Markey has not?
With the June 25 special election quickly approaching, it’s time for Mr. Gomez to tell voters how he would turn his opposition to “discrimination of any kind” into legislative action, should he be elected to the U.S. Senate.
Cross-posted at Blue Mass Group.