Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney: Mr. Pragmatic Goes (Back) to Washington

On January 3, 2013, the Hudson Valley’s Sean Patrick Maloney became the first openly gay congressman from New York State. But he’s been too busy to pay his own pioneering any mind

(page 5 of 6)

maloney swearing in ceremonyThe congressman’s 2012 swearing-in ceremony, attended by (l-r) brother Mark Maloney, sister-in-law Sharon Maloney, Speaker of the House John Boehner, partner Randy Florke, daughter Essie Maloney Florke, Rep. Maloney, daughter Daley Maloney Florke, and son Jesus Florke

The question comes up regularly: Why haven’t Sean and Randy gotten married yet? Same-sex marriage has been legal in New York since July 24, 2011. They’ve been together 21 years. So what’s the holdup?

There hasn’t been the time, with a congressional campaign and Maloney’s term gobbling up the last 18 months. But the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, is a factor, too. Signed into law in 1996 by Maloney’s mentor Bill Clinton — who has since changed his position on it — it restricts federal marriage benefits to opposite-sex marriages. “Equality and fairness should matter to all of us — living in a country where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution mean what they say,” Maloney says. “I’m sure we’ll get married. I think that we have not done so up until now because it didn’t represent something that was truly equal — and still does not.”

President Obama’s administration has deemed DOMA unconstitutional, and the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on a DOMA-related case in late March. “It does bother me that, despite the enormous progress represented by state law changing in New York, most of the significant practical reasons why you enter into a civil marriage still happen under federal law and are still very unequal,” says Maloney. “Whether you want to talk about your income taxes or your estate taxes or your gift taxes or your health-care benefits or immigration, they’re all creatures of federal law. Whether we’re married or not, it is illegal under federal law for Randy to get health insurance on my policy through the House of Representatives. Think about that. I’m a Member of Congress and I’m discriminated against under federal law, and that’s the problem with DOMA. It’s wrong, it’s discriminatory; we have to change it.”

Maloney won’t rule out getting married before DOMA is repealed, but he’s conscious of the power of his stance as a high-profile gay man. “Randy and I have been part of this fight for civil equality for a couple of decades,” he says. So they’ll get married when it makes sense both for them and for the wider movement. “It’s worked for 20 years, so I’m sure we can hold it together for a little while longer.”

Besides, Maloney adds with a chuckle, “I’m not going to get married until somebody proposes to me and I get a rock.”

(Continued on next page)



Type: HTML Text
The Hot Ticket (events e-newsletter)
Be the first to find out what’s happening in the Valley, from rock concerts to food fests.
The Corner Table (dining e-newsletter)
We dish on the best restaurants, recipes, and tips from our Accidental Foodie.
HVM VIP Invitations & Special Offers
Get special offers on local events, products, and services.