Same-sex couples in Seattle celebrate at their weddings.
(Photo: Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY)
(USA TODAY) Republican state Rep. Dan Winslow is running for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts, where gay couples can legally marry.
He wanted to know whether a same-sex couple can pool their money and donate to his campaign - as straight couples are able to do.
The Federal Election Commission on Thursday said no and cited the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as a reason in its advisory opinion.
DOMA defines marriage as between one man and one woman and states that "spouse" refers to the person of opposite sex. The Supreme Court in March sounded skeptical about the law, which prevents legally married gay couples from receiving tax breaks, survivor benefits under Social Security and other federal benefits.
The FEC made clear that commissioners were prevented from treating donations from same-sex couples the same way those from straight ones are treated, because the gay marriage law doesn't recognize them as spouses.
FEC Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub said in a statement she "very reluctantly voted no" but explained the law gave her no choice, saying DOMA represents a "discriminatory, irrational burden" on political participation by gay men and lesbians who are legally married.
The election commission basically told Winslow to come back if the law on gay marriage changes - and he sounds eager to do so.
"It's sad that in the 21st Century the federal government is still denying certain people their First Amendment rights as guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution," Winslow sad in a statement. "However, I am encouraged by the FEC's advice that I return to them as soon as DOMA is overturned and they will happily reverse their decision. I strongly believe DOMA will be overturned by the Supreme Court and I look forward to take the FEC up on its offer."
Winslow is one of three Republicans running to succeed Democrat John Kerry, now the U.S. secretary of State. Both parties hold primaries on Tuesday and the general election is June 25.
Catalina Camia, USA TODAY