Representative Mark Pocan’s husband made history today by becoming the first same-sex spouse of a federal lawmaker to receive a House Spouse ID. The Wisconsin Democrat won the First Wisconsin District last November. His predecessor was Tammy Baldwin, who made history by becoming the first openly lesbian member of the Senate.
Pocan stated “We’re very happy that my husband Phil (Frank) was able to get a House Spouse ID.”
In 2009, the same-sex partner of a another gay representative was issued the card, but was later told it was an error and that he should have been given the Designee ID given to unmarried partners of Congressional members.
Up until two weeks ago, Philip Frank had that idea despite the fact that he and Pocan married in Canada back in 2006. The Defense of Marriage Act is suppose to block recognition of same-sex marriages by the federal government.
Pocan stated that “We had been told that [the designee ID] is what we would get from Day 1.” However, Pocan worked with House leadership, and especially with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Frank was able to get the spousal ID.
Pocan said of the issued ID “It’s significant. It’s the first time.”
The ID’s issuance is largely symbolic. Frank still does not get access to spousal benefits, at least until DOMA has been overturned or repealed. Still, Pocan has stated that he is keenly aware of the many federal employees with same-sex spouses who are unable to get equal workplace benefits thanks to DOMA.
He is working with lawmakers to get enough co-sponsors on a bill to extend benefits to federal employees with same-sex spouses.
The United States Supreme Court is currently weighing two cases involving same-sex marriage. The first tackles state bans on same-sex marriage, and the other has to do with the Defense of Marriage Act.