Sen. Elizabeth Warren has been touting a bill she introduced last week as essentially a form of gay reparations.
The Refund Equality Act would would make whole LGBT couples for federal taxes they paid before the Supreme Court made gay marriage legal nationwide in 2013. Couples whose unions were recognized by states in the years ahead of the ruling could amend their tax returns to get IRS refunds.
According to NBC News, the legislation would put the government on the hook for up to $57 million.
Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat who is running for president, tweeted Saturday that the United States had discriminated against gay couples, and so is morally and financially indebted to them.
“Our government owes them more than $50M for the years our discriminatory tax code left them out,” she said. “We must right these wrongs.”
It wasn’t until marriage equality became law that gay & lesbian couples could jointly file tax returns—so they paid more in taxes. Our government owes them more than $50M for the years our discriminatory tax code left them out. We must right these wrongs. https://t.co/OZQcfVilSs
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) June 23, 2019
In a statement accompanying the introduction of her bill last Thursday, Warren noted that the government would owe almost a decade’s worth of taxes to couples in her home state, which was the first to legalize gay marriage in 2004.
“The federal government forced legally married same-sex couples in Massachusetts to file as individuals and pay more in taxes for almost a decade,” Warren said. “We need to call out that discrimination and to make it right — Congress should pass the Refund Equality Act immediately.”
Warren proposed similar legislation in July 2017, but it stalled and so had to reintroduced this year. The PRIDE Act, another bill introduced by Democratic Congress members last week, would do the same thing.
Elizabeth Warren supports more than just gay reparations
In the run-up to the 2020 elections, slavery reparations have become something of a liberal cause célèbre. Warren is among a number of Democratic candidates who have claimed to be in favor of the policy.
“We must confront the dark history of slavery and government-sanctioned discrimination in this country that has had many consequences including undermining the ability of Black families to build wealth in America for generations,” she told Reuters in February.
Warren – who has rolled out a series of improbable left-wing economic policy proposals on the campaign trail – was also among a dozen cosponsors of a bill by Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., that would establish a committee to study reparations.
At a June 19 hearing on the legislation, black Americans testified on both sides of the issue.
Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, who helped popularize the idea of reparations on the left with a 2014 Atlantic cover story, argued that America needs to show black people the money.
“In H.R. 40, this body has a chance to both make good on its 2009 apology for enslavement, and reject fair-weather patriotism, to say that this nation is both its credits and debits because the question really is not whether we’ll be tied to the somethings of our past, but whether we are courageous enough to be tied to the whole of them,” he said.
However, Burgess Owens, a former NFL player and conservative commentator, made that right-wing case that reparations are yet another instance of identity politics run amok.
“I do not believe in reparations,” he said. “Because what reparations does is, it points to a certain race, a certain color, and points to them as evil and points to the other race, my race, as one that not only becomes racist, but also beggars.”
“Let’s point to the party that was the party of slavery, KKK, Jim Crow, that has killed over 40 percent of our black babies – 20 million of them,” he said, referring to the Democrats’ history of anti-black racism and current support for abortion rights.
“How about the Democratic Party pay for all the misery brought to my race and those — after we learn our history — who decide to stay there, they should pay also.”