MA Lawmakers Approve Gay Medicaid

Massachusetts, the first state to legalize gay marriage, took another step toward full equality yesterday:

The Massachusetts state Senate on Wednesday passed a bill granting married same-sex couples equal Medicaid benefits, gay rights group MassEquality reported.

Gov. Deval Patrick is expected to sign the bill, which was passed by the state House on July 15.

The lawmakers’ actions defy the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which bans legally wed same-sex couples from receiving federally provided benefits such as Medicaid, the “safety-net” health care program administered by the states.

Supporters say Massachusetts can circumvent federal law by using only state dollars to pay for gay couples’ benefits.

The move will especially benefit senior citizens, who face eviction and poverty under the current laws, say activists.