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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 3, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 14
Senate votes for Social Security and veterans benefits for same-sex spouses
Section One
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Senate votes for Social Security and veterans benefits for same-sex spouses

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Eleven Republicans joined all 44 Democrats in adopting an amendment to the federal budget bill that would guarantee equal Social Security and veterans benefits to same-sex spouses regardless of their state of residence.

The amendment, proposed by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), was adopted March 26, as one of a series of votes attached to the budget resolution. The budget resolution ultimately passed by the Senate may or may not be agreed to by the House.

Currently, the Social Security Administration affords same-sex spouses the same benefits as opposite-sex spouses only if they reside in a state that recognizes their marriage. Washington Senator Patty Murray recently introduced the SAME Act, which has the same goal as Schatz's amendment, but is a stand-alone bill.

Four of the Senate Republicans voting for the amendment have previously announced support for marriage equality - Susan Collins (R-ME), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Rob Portman (R-OH).

Six additional Republicans come from states where same-sex marriage is already legal - Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Richard Burr and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Dean Heller of Nevada, and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.

The eleventh Republican is Bob Corker of Tennessee. Like Portman, his state has a marriage case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

In a statement, Schatz praised the bipartisan support the measure received.

"Tonight, eleven Republicans joined Democrats in recognizing that gay couples deserve equal treatment, regardless of where they live," he said. "We still have work to do to, but this is progress and a win for equal rights." None of the 2016 Republican presidential contenders in the Senate - Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio - supported the amendment.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), the only Democratic Senator who has not endorsed marriage equality, joined his party colleagues in voting for the amendment. Manchin previously voted for ENDA in 2013, but did not cast a vote on DADT repeal.

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