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Respect for Marriage Act Reintroduced in Congress

After DOMA decision, bill aims to strike entire law from the books

As LGBT communities celebrated the Supreme Court’s ruling that found Section 3 of DOMA unconstitutional, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) reintroduced the Respect for Marriage Act into Congress. The bill intends to strike down remaining clauses of DOMA.

The Supreme Court’s decision yesterday extends federal benefits—along with respect and dignity—to legally married same-sex couples in states where their marriages are recognized. It does not extend the right to marry in any state that doesn’t already allow it.

 

The Respect for Marriage Act “repeals DOMA in its entirety and sends DOMA into the history books where it belongs. This bill ensures repeal of section 2 of DOMA, which was not at issue in the Windsor case and purports to excuse the states from even considering whether to honor the marriage of a gay and lesbian couple performed by a sister state. The bill also provides a uniform rule for recognizing couples under federal law, ensuring that all lawfully married couples will be recognized under federal law, no matter where they live,” Nadler said.

The bill has 161 co-sponsors in the Republican-controlled House, including two Republicans. Thirty-nine Democrats and two Independents have signed on as co-sponsors in the Senate.

 

“I was one of 14 senators to oppose DOMA in 1996,” Sen. Feinstein said. “[Yesterday’s] ruling by the Supreme Court clearly establishes that one class of legally married individuals cannot be denied rights under federal law accorded to all other legally married couples. Our legislation is necessary because inequities in the administration of more than 1,100 federal laws affected by DOMA—including social security and veterans benefits—will still need to be fixed.  It is time for Congress to strike this discriminatory law once and for all.”

 

HRC President Chad Griffin emphasized the importance of this act, following the Court’s ruling. “The Respect for Marriage Act will finally expunge DOMA’s discrimination from our nation’s laws and provide certainty to every married same-sex couple that their federal recognition will follow them wherever they may live or travel. We have an obligation to ensure every same-sex couple—whether they live in Arkansas or New York, Kansas or California—can share in yesterday’s emotional and deserved victory.”

Rachael Sage
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