The Federal Election Commission said Thursday that legally married gay couples must be treated in the same manner as opposite-sex couples under election law, reversing its previous position in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling last month that struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act. In light of the court’s decision, the election commission said that same-sex spouses can now make a single campaign contribution from a joint bank account if only one spouse has earned the income, as opposite-sex spouses are permitted to do. The commissioners also concluded that gay federal candidates who are legally married can use assets they jointly own with their spouses in their campaigns, and that same-sex spouses are considered family members of gay candidates for purposes of campaign finance rules.
The decisions came in response to requests from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Dan Winslow, a Republican who ran in a Massachusetts special primary election this spring to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by now-Secretary of State John Kerry.
The five-member panel, which is short one commissioner, set aside the rancor that has engulfed the agency in recent months to approve the two motions unanimously.
The commission’s rulings were heralded by gay rights advocates, who are pushing the Obama administration to move quickly to update federal regulations and codes to comply with the high court’s decision on DOMA.