Sen. Bob Graham pushes tax breaks for gay couples

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com June 17 2003 12:00 AM ET

In a shift to the left, U.S. senator Bob Graham, the only Democratic presidential candidate who opposes both same-sex marriage and civil unions, on Friday began pushing for tax breaks on health-insurance coverage for gay couples and other domestic partners. According to a number of political experts, Graham's proposal is part of a larger trend to capture Democratic presidential primary votes, the Orlando Sentinel reports. "If he's going to survive in the primary, he's got to move farther left," said Roger Handberg, chairman of the political-science department at the University of Central Florida. "He has to get his campaign off zero. It's a building block."

Graham is a relatively late entry in the nine-person Democratic primary field. His voting record has long been considered moderate. But Democratic primaries tend to attract a high percentage of more
liberal voters. The Florida senator's proposal to help gay and lesbian couples appeals to a constituency that wields power in Democratic primaries and donates to campaigns. The legislation would provide tax breaks for domestic partners that married couples already enjoy. "Unfortunately, federal tax law has not kept up with changes in this area, because the employers who offer these benefits and the employees
receiving them are taxed inequitably," Graham said in a letter Friday to colleagues that he wrote with Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.).