Openly gay U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan’s husband has received an ID issued only to the spouses of federal lawmakers. It is the first time the House has recognized the same-sex husband of a member with the House Spouse ID.
“We’re very happy that my husband Phil (Frank) was able to get a House Spouse ID,” said Pocan, a Democrat from Madison.
A congressional spouse ID was issued to the same-sex partner of another gay representative in 2009, but he was later told the card was issued in error, that he should have received the Designee ID given to unmarried partners of members of Congress.
The Designee ID is the type of card Philip Frank had until about two weeks ago. Frank married Pocan in Canada in November 2006, but the federal government, under the Defense of Marriage Act, does not recognize same-sex marriages.
“We had been told that is what we would get from Day 1,” Pocan said of the “designee” classification on May 9.
But working with the House leadership, especially House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the spousal ID was secured.
“It’s significant,” Pocan said. “It’s the first time.”
The congressman said the ID is largely symbolic and its issuance doesn’t mean Frank has access to the spousal benefits that other congressional husbands or wives receive.
Pocan said he’s also keenly aware of the many federal employees with same-sex spouses who are denied equal workplace benefits in health care, family leave and other areas.
But the congressman is working with other lawmakers to collect co-sponsors on legislation to extend benefits to federal employees with same-sex spouses.
Pocan, who grew up in Kenosha, resides in Madison and represented the area first in the state Assembly and then in Congress. He was elected to the House in November 2012.