For Gay Lawmaker, Court’s Decision Personal, Powerful, Profound
The crowd in front of the Supreme Court awaiting Friday’s landmark decision on same-sex marriage included one of the country’s most eligible bachelors — openly gay Rep. Mark Takano.
The California Democrat said he wanted to be right at the spot where civil rights history was made. But it was also personal for Takano, who said the ruling “allows me the same degree of freedom any other American has to a marriage partner. That’s pretty profound.” Not that the 54-year-old is ready to exchange vows, despite gay culture website Out.com listing him as one of the 100 most eligible bachelors three years running.
His home state already allowed same-sex marriage, but the country is wide, of course. And the ruling lifts roadblocks.
“You never know when Mr. Right will come along, if he’s from Louisiana and has a charming accent and refuses to live anywhere else, there’s one less struggle,” Takano told CQ Roll Call. “Not that I worry about it too much.”
Takano got elected in 2012, along with five other LGBT lawmakers (and then former Maine Rep. Michael Michaud came out as gay that Congress). He likes to joke that he “got elected to the gayest Congress ever. Well, the gayest Congress we know of.”
Congress could be the next to act on LGBT civil rights, Takano said. Although gays and lesbians can now marry in states where they could not previously, they can still face discrimination in areas like workplace and housing.
“That really points out a need for either a comprehensive LGBT civil rights act, which will cover all of the above and then some, or it’s going to mean a few more years of litigation,” Takano said.
Support for LGBT rights has the votes in the House, Takano said, pointing to the 241-184 vote on June 9 on an amendment to the 2015 Transportation-HUD spending bill.
The amendment, introduced by California Democrat Rep. Scott Peters, prohibits federal contractors from discriminating in hiring and employment.
At the Supreme Court on Friday, Takano watched interns run the decision to news media, heard the bubbling of excitement as the news made its way across the crowd. A gay men’s chorus near him started singing the national anthem.
He expects people to remember where they were when they heard the decision. “I can tell you where I was, I was right in front of the Supreme Court,” he said.