Protecting and Promoting Equality

Warren sets the terms of debate. - promoted by Bob_Neer

I’ve had the chance to say it in living rooms and school auditoriums, but I’m glad to have the chance to say it here: No one – no one – should be discriminated against because of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or religion.

I’m deeply proud to be from Massachusetts because the Commonwealth has been the nation’s leader in protecting and promoting equality – from marriage equality to the recently passed Transgender Equal Rights Bill. Congress and the President have also recently taken historic steps forward in promoting the cause of fairness and equality: the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hates Crimes Prevention Act and – after years of effort – the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

We’ve made extraordinary progress, but there is still much to do.

As other states grapple with whether to support marriage equality, I’m ready to move to the next step: End the two-tiered system created by the Defense of Marriage Act. Our federal government should not be in the business of selecting which married couples it supports and which it treats with contempt. States define marriage among couples, and, once married, all those couples and their families should have the same protections, the same benefits, and the same tax treatments. Fairness and equality are foundational values in our country, and nowhere is that more important than in our families.

In the workplace, people should be hired for what they can do and evaluated on their performance – period. I strongly support the fully inclusive Employee Non-Discrimination Act. Particularly in these uncertain times, people must have confidence that they will be judged on the merits. Again, this speaks to the fairness and equality that mark us as a people.

Finally, Massachusetts has been a leader in combating the rise of bullying. After college, I taught elementary school and saw first hand how important it is for kids to learn in a safe and welcoming environment. We need to help teachers and administrators create and foster an environment that welcomes students and their families, whether kids are being raised in a single parent household, by their grandparents, or by their lesbian moms or gay dads. All children – straight, questioning, perceived, gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender – can thrive in school only when they are truly safe and secure.

This is our moment in history. From marriage equality to investing in public education, from sensible financial regulations to environmental protections, we must decide what kind of people we are and what kind of nation we are going to build. All across the Commonwealth and the country, people want to create a better future for their children and their grandchildren. They want an America in which every kid has the opportunity to succeed.

Note: Elizabeth Warren is a Democratic candidate for the United States Senate in Massachusetts. To join her campaign, click


30 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Thank you, Elizabeth

    I think many readers of BMG support Elizabeth’s views in what she said in this post and many other areas. If you want to support her one way to help is to caucus for her in February. To caucus for Elizabeth you must be a registered Democrat as of December 31. There are many other ways to help. As the post says go her website and signup to volunter.

  2. Excellent!

    As someone who pressured the campaign publicly for this, I’m happy to say thank you and well done publicly too. There’s still the matter of posting it or a condensed version on her website so that non-BMG readers know about it, but for the moment this will do. Thank you Elizabeth Warren!

    • Well done, Laurel.

      It seems to me that there’s a pretty good correlation between your request and Warren’s deciding to make a statement. And, as you say, it’s an excellent statement, and it has attracted some national attention.

      Sometimes, all it takes is one person who really wants her question answered. This might be one of those times. :)

      • Maybe, but I'll bet you that

        all those individual conversations on LGBT issues that people have been having with Warren at house parties and in other meetings made it clear long before I ever wrote anything that these are among the issues considered important by MA Democratic voters. A lot of people should be proud that they spoke up in their own way when the opportunity arose.

  3. Why should marriages get federal benefits at all?

    Why should getting married result in getting any benefits from the federal government? Can you explain why we do that, and if it is worth it?

    Do you have a dollar figure for how much it will cost to extend benefits to same-sex marriages?

    And why aren’t you concerned for the gays and lesbians who live in the 44 states that don’t have same-sex marriage? As a Senator, you’re a Senator for the whole country, the laws and policies you make are for everyone, not just to benefit the people in Massachusetts.

    What would you do as Senator to encourage more states to give legal recognition to same-sex couples?

    What if a state decides to have Civil Unions, would we give them federal benefits?

    Would a same-sex couple have to reside in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage to be recognized as married by the federal government and get those benefits?

    And what if giving federal recognition to same-sex marriages results in a backlash or a Federal Marriage Amendment, which only needs 38 states (6 less than 44!).

    And if you think states should define marriage, what about things like polygamy and inter-racial marriage, and child marriage? Those are areas where the federal government has overruled the states definition, so your premise is false.

    • The impact of DOMA

      “Do you have a dollar figure for how much it will cost to extend benefits to same-sex marriages?”

      No, but I can tell you exactly the amount of income that has been imputed to me this year as of last Friday for federal tax purposes because of DOMA. I never see this income but I pay taxes on it: $9182.040

      The point is we should all be treated fairly and the same if we are similarly situated, and we’re not.

      • I don't understand

        I think it’s worth asking how much it will cost. Is it fair to say you would pay about $2000 less in taxes?

        The first federal count of same-sex married couples in the USA shows 131,729 gay or lesbian couples who say they’re married. That was a few years ago, before New York, so let’s up it to 200,000, or 400,000 people paying 2,000 less, that’s $800,000,000 less tax revenue, every year.

        That seems like a lot, is there any better figure out there?

        • WAIT A MINUTE

          You’re suggesting that gay people should be taxed more for being gay because you don’t think the government should give up a tiny slice of revenue, compared to the whole pie? That’s asinine. Why on earth would gay marriages be taxed in that way, a tiny slice of all marriages, when straight marriages aren’t — you know, 98-99% of all marriages?

          Taxes must be fair. We can’t discriminate on people because of their sexual orientation. If taxes need to be raised to offset any losses, do so in a way that taxes people fairly, based on their income, not orientation.

          RyansTake   @   Thu 15 Dec 7:14 PM
          • Yes tax people fairly

            don’t give some people a break just because they sign a legal form that is virtually meaningless today. Why should two single guys not get a benefit, but if they sign a piece of paper that says they are married, they suddenly get a big break and life long survivor benefits?

        • I am constrained to point out

          that the usual conservative position with respect to taxes is that the money belongs to the taxpayer, not the government. I do seem to recall this position when one or another person here was pointing the cost of a tax cut.

          I is notable, though entirely unsurprising, that this seemingly bedrock conservative principle is so easily abandoned if it can make a half-assed argument on how to screw over gay people. And another example, if one be needed at this point, of how the sheer odiousness of today’s Republicanism.

    • Asinine

      “Benefits” can be everything from sharing health care to granting an earned pension, that the federal employee (and therefore family) paid into for decades, to a surviving spouse. Would you suggest these go away?

      Now, bear in mind the fact that sharing those benefits has an asterisk. Gay couples can’t share them. If two men were married and one had no insurance, while the other had insurance from their federal job, the person with insurance can’t share it. If that couple were married for decades and then, suddenly the federal employee died after having earned a pension, that pension would go *poof* and the survivor would be denied it, just because he was gay.

      Married straight couples can file their income taxes together, gay couples can’t. Married straight couples where one person is in the military are eligible for critically important benefits, while the gay couple isn’t. There are literally thousands of different things in this world that are considered “benefits,” which are granted from the federal government when one is married, most of them for very good reasons, and gay spouses are entitled to almost none of them — and it’s unconscionable.

      RyansTake   @   Thu 15 Dec 7:11 PM
    • too cute...

      Why should getting married result in getting any benefits from the federal government? Can you explain why we do that, and if it is worth it?

      Unless you’re going to argue that we ought to eliminate all marriage benefiits and regulations, wholesale, this is irrelevant to the question of equality for same sex couples.

      Do you have a dollar figure for how much it will cost to extend benefits to same-sex marriages?

      Absolutely zero. Nothing more than what it would cost an equivalent population of opposite sex couples to marry… and the infrastructure for that is already in place. Or, put another way, denying same-sex couples marriage benefits is requiring them to either be single or to (fraudulently) marry a member of the opposite sex (it’s not like that’s not done…) using the same amount of resources.

      And why aren’t you concerned for the gays and lesbians who live in the 44 states that don’t have same-sex marriage? As a Senator, you’re a Senator for the whole country, the laws and policies you make are for everyone, not just to benefit the people in Massachusetts.

      And there is no indication, whatsoever, that EW will vote differently on this issue when considering the difference between the states. You’re fishing without bait.

      • I was asking why we give federal benefits to married couples

        Do you have a guess? I do think we should eliminate marriage benefits wholesale, unless we can come up with a good reason for them. I think they are a vestige of olden days when everyone got married, stayed married for life, and husbands were the wage earners. That’s not usually the case these days, so marriage benefits don’t make sense anymore.

        It will certainly cost lots of money. I also ask how much straight sham marriages cost us when elderly retirees marry just for the benefits. I think we should not pay benefits to couples that marry after age 40, unless they have kids together.

        Repealing DOMA would only benefit couples in 6 states, she should not be sacrificing the same-sex couples in 44 states to buy votes in her own electorate.

        • Or is that last one wrong?

          Would same-sex couples from every state be able to take a flight to New York, get married, and hop back home, and then claim federal benefits even though they are not married when they get back home? Probably, huh? That is what would prompt those states to initiate the FMA.

    • I'm not asking for money

      I just want to be able to marry my boyfriend and have him be able to work and live with me in the US.

      He’s a doctor and he was born in Canada. Can’t I please have him here with me?

  4. Very Impressive!

    Typical Warren. Clear, Concise, and direct.

    She has the potential to become a truly great Senator.

  5. "We've made extraordinary progress, but there is still much to do."

    The comment posted above by “dont-get-cute” only serves to amplify Ms. Warren’s point. It runs the gamut from uninformed to unintelligible and arrives at its final resting place– unhinged.

  6. Civil RIghts Are a Federal Issue

    States define marriage among couples, and, once married, all those couples and their families should have the same protections, the same benefits, and the same tax treatments. Fairness and equality are foundational values in our country, and nowhere is that more important than in our families.

    I hope Dr. Warren is simply being diplomatic while campaigning.

    I think that if states want to force co-habitation, they should make sure that rights and taxation are equally representative for those forced into co-habitation. We don’t live in a church. We live in a country. Maybe states should issue only civil union licenses and leave “marriage” to the churches.

    Each US citizen has full and protected rights. Otherwise we get the official racism of the South, women who can’t close their own bank accounts without their husband’s signed permission (much less get the health care they need and want), immigration confusion, marriage discrimination, etc.

    Narrow and bigoted State marriage laws are discriminatory against US citizens and are conflicting with federal laws. That’s a problem with our American ability to move freely about our one big country. Many states can’t seem to comprehend protection of individual citizens’ civil rights, and their bad behavior is forcing centralization of regulations to protect US citizens’ rights.

    Since Dr. Warren supports employee non-discrimination, I’m hopeful that once in office she will support non-discrimination in marriage with equal fervor. Surely one’s family relationships are at least as important as the treatment one receives in the workplace.

  7. Well alright

    I’m glad to see Warren take a strong position outside of her core issues while still maintaining her central theme of supporting individual families. I hope there are many more positions to come with the same focus on how those positions effect people on the ground.

  8. Way to Go Liz !!

    As always, clear, concise and easily understood. Keep up the great work…

  9. One issue doesn't mean the exclusion of others

    Following on @kokoty… This is a larger point that I want to write and to discuss more here, but it seems a propos in the current space, with the concerns that Warren would be all about economic issues and not enough about LGBT equality and civil rights. So I think it’s worth emphasizing that a focus on one issue does not necessarily mean that issues will be ignored — if our message is clear and strong and unified.

    We’ve already seen Warren make the case for progressive capitalism with an active government in a way that we haven’t heard in years. And now — maybe, just maybe — we can rebuild and reinvigorate a unified message that can speak to both economic and social justice simultaneously, a message that addresses everyone’s passion issues without becoming an unwieldy 14-point list of policies of the sort that Democrats have trotted out in virtually every election in my lifetime.

    What ties these positions and commitments together is openness. Open vs. closed is the new left vs. right. It’s about a society that’s horizontal rather than hierarchical. In an open America, the 1% still has to compete on a level playing field rather than entrenching themselves through backchannels and sweetheart deals that are hidden and unavailable to the rest of us. They talk a lot about capitalism, but really, they want reward with no risk — they want to win without having to compete with the rest of us. That’s not capitalism; that’s aristocracy.

    In an open America, success is based on what a person does, not who a person is. An open labor market is one in which everyone has a chance to participate — which means everyone has to have open access to a good education, and everyone has to be free from discrimination. A closed labor market is one in which the current winners cut off funding for education to make sure their children maintain their privileged positions — rather than having to compete with children from underprivileged backgrounds. True, open public education is an extraordinarily disruptive force — and it should be.

    An open America is also one in which there are no cultural castes — no second-class citizens — no codification of particular religious values. Radical social conservatives are desperate to hang on to their power as arbiters of morality and scared as hell about losing their cultural hegemony — less sway means fewer followers and less money and power. They’ve allied with economic conservatives and trigger-happy neo-cons because they can all agree on one (and really only one) thing: preserving a status quo that benefits them as the entrenched powers that be. For fundamentalists, it’s not about values or children, it’s about power — the power to say who’s moral and who isn’t, the power to declare the 1% they claim will be raptured up to heaven and the 99% left behind. They’re exclusionary. We’re inclusionary.

    Equality, education, the economy — all these issues are related and can be addressed with the same core message. It’s all about reopening and broadening opportunities that radical conservatives have tried to nail shut. Part of how they’ve done so is through the corrosive influence of big campaign money and lobbying — but a huge part of it has been the refinement of simple, powerful messages that resonate with people. Hope and change sounded good in ’08, but we’ve been waiting for a sequel that has yet to come.

    Though I hope Warren uses her economic message as a foundation for talking about open opportunity in America in a broader sense — especially because she has become one of the more audible progressive voices in the country — all of us have to get to work on this message.

    • p.s. - the economic consequences of inequality

      @jarstar — That’s one more way in which these issues very substantially overlap. I don’t think for half a second that foes of marriage equality have not done the math on the economic impact of these discriminatory provisions. The GOP favors tax cuts … unless you’re a same-sex couple. (Or unless you, you know, derive your income from wages and not from investments.)

  10. Thank you!

    I knew you supported all of these things, but I deeply appreciate such a clear, concise and impassioned diary about it. These are important matters and it’s well past time we treat people fairly. In these economic times, it’s more important than ever to ensure DOMA is ended… too many glbt families are struggling even more than they would have been, given the economy, because of it.

    RyansTake   @   Thu 15 Dec 7:16 PM
  11. Note to Don't Get Cute

    Society absolutely has an interest in family stability, hence that “meaningless piece of paper” and all the rights inherent therein (which I guess makes it not so meaningless, right?). Without it we would have to figure out ad hoc who gets power of attorney, who gets visitation rights, who gets custody of any children involved, etc., etc. Especially if you are the survivor of the pair you’ll realize awfully quickly how important that “meaningless piece of paper” is. It is absolutely NOT the case that every couple consists of two individuals who could live just as easily independently as together.

    • Sure, the couple benefits

      I’m not saying eliminate marriage, just eliminate the federal benefits. I think social security survivor benefits and the tax breaks should only be given to straight couples that married before 40. I don’t see what it benefits us for two 80 year olds to marry so that we have to keep paying the benefits to someone who wasn’t really their spouse, or two women.

  12. Our statement on Warren's positions

    BOSTON, December 16, 2011— Statement by MassEquality Executive Director Kara Suffredini on US Senate Candidate Elizabeth Warren’s Release of Stance on LGBT Rights:

    “This week, Elizabeth Warren announced her support for marriage equality; repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, which discriminates against married same-sex couples; passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act with full protections for transgender residents; safe schools for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth; and full support for LGBT families. These positions are consistent with the legacy of the US Senate seat for which she is running, as well as the values of Massachusetts voters. Her thoughtful and comprehensive positions raise the bar on support for LGBT equality for every candidate in the race.

    “MassEquality does not endorse in federal elections. But we are pleased to see Warren’s support for full equality, and we will be educating voters, particularly LGBT voters, on where all of the candidates stand on LGBT issues. We will also be releasing a comprehensive voters guide in advance of the elections.”

  13. End Federally sanctioned discrimination against people with severe mental illness

    I applaud Ms. Warren’s call to promote and protect equality, yet she, like most people, may be unaware that the federal government sanctions discrimination against millions of Americans with severe mental illness via the Medicaid Institutes for Mental Diseases (IMD) Exclusion. It is a Medicaid law that has been on the books since 1965. Please read my essay in Reader Supported News, in memory of my twin brother Paul, entitled “I WAS A PERSON”. To learn more about the Medicaid IMD Exclusion and its devastating effects, go to my website:

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