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Elizabeth Warren speaks at Rainbow PUSH event
2017-07-16

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U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren ( D-Massachusetts )—one day after introducing legislation that would, if enacted, give married same-sex couples a tax refund retroactive from their union to the 2013 invalidation of section 3 of DOMA—spoke at the July 14 International Women's Luncheon, which was part of Rainbow PUSH Coalition and Citizen Education Fund's annual conference. ( U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters and singer Aretha Franklin were also slated to appear at the event, but did not. )

Warren did not discuss her tax proposal at the luncheon, held at the Chicago Hilton and Towers, instead focusing on economic- and racial-inequality in her remarks. The Coalition's founder, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr., praised Warren as a politician who understands that "those who have the least pay the most" in American society. Warren, in turn, praised Jackson as a "champion for justice and working Americans."

She opened by reviewing progress in fighting inequality she said was made during the Obama administration, then detailed efforts by the Trump administration to undo that progress.

"America used to be a beacon of light and hope," Warren said. "Now that 'light' is the glow of [Trump's] phone, with every ugly tweet."

She added that America is up against widespread "oppression, suppression and repression," which she called a new 'axis of evil' opposing Americans.

"America is richer than ever before, [but] more people are left behind than ever before," Warren said. But she promised to maintain a front of opposition, recalling her removal from the Senate floor in February when she attempted to read the words from Coretta Scott King while discussing U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Paraphrasing criticism from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell—whose words then became a widely-distributed meme in support of Warren—Warren said, "I was warned. I was given an explanation. And yes, I persisted."

Warren filed the tax bill, titled the Refund Equality Act of 2017, which she co-sponsored along with fellow Massachusetts Democrat Sen. Richard Neal, on July 13. The bill would allow same-sex couples to file amended tax returns back to the date of their marriage.

Married gay and lesbian Americans were first allowed to file joint returns in 2013. The IRS typically allows persons to file amended tax returns going back three years. Warren and Neal's bill would allow for individuals to file amended returns from earlier years should they have been married prior to 2010.

"For nearly a decade, legally married same-sex couples had to file their taxes as single persons, often paying more taxes than they would owe if they could file as married," Warren said in a July 13 statement. "This bill is a simple fix to allow same-sex couples to claim the tax refunds they earned but were denied because of who they love."

Both U.S. senators from Illinois—Tammy Duckworth ( D ) and Richard Durbin ( D )—have signed on as co-sponsors of the legislation.


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