John Kerry, newly confirmed to succeed Hillary Clinton as secretary of State, noted progress on LGBT rights in his emotional farewell address to the U.S. Senate this week.
Kerry recalled the 1996 passage of the Defense of Marriage Act, prohibiting federal recognition of same-sex marriages, saying, “We’ve gone from a Senate that passed DOMA over my objections to one that just welcomed its first openly gay senator.” That senator is Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin.
Kerry, a U.S. senator from Massachusetts since 1985, was one of only 14 senators, all Democrats, who voted against DOMA, backed and signed by Democratic president Bill Clinton. With Kerry’s departure from the Senate, only three of them remain, notes BuzzFeed: Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, both of California, and Ron Wyden of Oregon. Another current senator, Ohio’s Sherrod Brown, voted against the bill as a member of the House of Representatives. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case challenging DOMA March 27.
Watch Kerry’s farewell speech below.