Republican Massachusetts Senate Candidate Asks FEC To Allow Gay Couples To Contribute Jointly To Campaign

The request puts into question whether the FEC will treat same-sex couples as married in the future.

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Dan Winslow at the Ponderosa Sportsman's Club, in Acushnet, Mass., Sunday, March 24, 2013.

Massachusetts Republican Senate candidate Dan Winslow, who is running for the seat vacated by Sen. John Kerry, has filed a request with the Federal Election Commission Monday for guidance on whether his campaign can accept contributions from same-sex married couples as they are allowed to for straight couples.

The request for an advisory opinion asks whether the FEC will treat these couples as married under state law or as unmarried through the Defense of Marriage Act. The request was filed on behalf of the campaign, citing donations from the Gerard R. Gershonowitz and Howard P. Johnson, who are married in Massachusetts and contributed to the campaign. At issue is whether the funds would count against one spouse’s contribution limit or be split between the two. Former FEC Chairman Trevor Potter told TIME the issue has never been settled by the FEC.

Winslow is seeking to carve out space for himself as a moderate Republican in Democratic Massachusetts and is a long-time supporter of gay marriage.

“We’ve received a donation from a same-sex couple who want to donate as a couple, and Dan Winslow believes they should be allowed to donate that way,” said spokesman Charles Pearce. “We’ve asked the FEC to tell us if we can.”

The campaign has asked the commission to reply within 20 days before the April 30 primary. Winslow trails former U.S. Attorney Michael J. Sullivan, who is opposed to gay marriage, with recent polling showing him with the support of only 10 percent of primary voters. More than 46 percent in the three-way race with former Navy SEAL Gabriel Gomez are undecided.