Now Reading
US Congress recognizes first gay spouse of a member with official ID

US Congress recognizes first gay spouse of a member with official ID

The US House of Representatives has issued its first ever spousal ID to the same-sex partner of a member of Congress.

Democratic Representative Mark Pocan’s husband Philip Frank received the ID on April 26 after the House of Representatives Sergeant At Arms informed Pocan that his husband was now eligible to receive a spousal ID.

Previously Philip Frank had had to use a ‘designee’ ID which merely recognized him as a guest of Pocan’s in the House of Representatives.

However Philip Frank still cannot receive the federal benefits that any other Congressional spouse would receive because of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

‘I think it’s an important step toward recognizing equality and we’re very proud of receiving it,’ Pocan said of the ID to the Washington Blade.

‘[But] we also realize there’s still a lot more work to do for same-sex couples that work for the Federal Government.’

Pocan enlisted the help of Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in asking the Sergeant At Arms to allow Congressional same-sex spouses access to more appropriate IDs than ones that merely declared them guests.

He now plans to introduce a bill extending federal benefits to same-sex couples in case the US Supreme Court does not strike down the DOMA in June when the court is expected to rule on a group of same-sex marriage related cases.

There are two other members of Congress in same-sex relationships – the Democrats’ Jared Polis and Sean Patrick Maloney – but neither have married their partners so their partners are not eligible for spousal IDs.

The now retired Congressman Barney Frank became the first member of the House of Representatives to marry a same-sex partner but his husband Jim Ready was not granted a spousal ID prior to Frank’s retirement.

Pocan won the seat vacated by openly lesbian Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin in November last year after serving as a Wisconsin State Assemblyman.

Pocan was sworn in with his husband present by Republican House Speaker John Boehner in January despite Boehner’s opposition to same-sex marriage and the repeal of DOMA.

The couple married in Canada in 2006 and Washington DC has recognized same-sex marriage performed outside its boarders since 2009.