In an unexpected move Thursday night, eleven Senate Republicans joined all Democrats on a nonbinding vote to guarantee equal Social Security and veterans benefits to married same-sex couples, regardless of state laws on gay marriage.
The amendment, proposed by Sen. Brian Schatz, addressed the fact that both Social Security and some provisions of veterans’ benefits are, by statute, provided to spouses on the basis of whether a couple’s marriage is recognized by the state in which they live. The amendment would provide for benefits for spouses for all married same-sex couples, regardless of where they live.
The four Republicans who have previously announced support for marriage equality — Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Rob Portman of Ohio — were joined by seven GOP colleagues in supporting the amendment. Of the four, only Portman lives in a state that does not recognize same-sex couples’ marriages.
The other seven GOP senators were Kelly Ayotte (NH), Richard Burr (NC), Thom Tillis (NC), Shelley Moore Capito (WV), Dean Heller (NV), Ron Johnson (WI), and Bob Corker (TN).
Yesterday, we reported on a U.S. district judge in Texas issuing an order blocking the new Family & Medical Leave Act rule allowing married, same-sex couples to take unpaid leave to care for sick spouses. The order affected Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Nebraska.