WASHINGTON — Sen. John Kerry said goodbye to the Senate Wednesday, taking time to note the progress made on LGBT issues during his time in Congress.
"We've gone from a Senate that passed DOMA over my objections to one that just welcomed its first openly gay senator," Kerry said of the 1996 vote for the Defense of Marriage Act.
Kerry's departure itself is a milestone of sorts. When the U.S. Supreme Court agreed Dec. 7 to hear Edith Windsor's challenge to DOMA's provision banning federal recognition of same-sex couples' marriages, six sitting senators had voted against DOMA when the Senate voted on the bill in 1996.
Kerry's departure Friday will leave only three people remaining in the Senate who voted against the bill in the Senate.
California Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein and Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden are the remaining three senators to have opposed the bill since its original passage.
Several senators who voted for DOMA in 1996 have since reversed their position on the issue, but only 14 senators — all Democrats — opposed the bill in the heat of the 1996 election when the possibility of Hawaii same-sex couples being able to marry prompted the bill's quick movement through Congress.
When the Supreme Court announced it was taking the case, six of those longtime LGBT supporters remained. That number is now cut in half. In addition to Kerry's departure, Sen. Daniel Inouye, who died Dec. 17, and Sen. Daniel Akaka, who retired at the end of the last Congress, had also voted against the bill, no longer remain in the Senate.
ALSO: One current senator, Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, voted against DOMA as a House member in 1996.
Chris Geidner is the legal editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. In 2014, Geidner won the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association award for journalist of the year.
Contact Chris Geidner at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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