National News

Congressional Co-Sponsors Move To Replace ‘Defense of Marriage Act’ With ‘Respect For Marriage Act’

On the 13th anniversary of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) introduced legislation to repeal it.

DOMA was signed into law on September 21, 1996, by President Bill Clinton. The federal government singles out legally married same-sex couples for discriminatory treatment under federal law, denying them more than 1,100 federal protections and responsibilities, including Social Security and immigration benefits, that otherwise apply to married couples.

President Barack Obama stated his support of the repeal of DOMA, in a June 17 presidential memorandum:

“I stand by my long-standing commitment to work with Congress to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act,” he said. “It’s discriminatory, it interferes with States’ rights, and it’s time we overturned it.”

Reps. Nadler, Baldwin, and Polis were joined for the announcement, which was delivered at the House Triangle, near the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, by a number of leading activists representing national equality organizations, including Kevin Cathcart, executive director of Lambda Legal, and Jen and Dawn BarbouRoske, plaintiffs in the court case which legalized same-sex marriage in Iowa.

“Because of that victory in April, Jen and Dawn are now married. Because of DOMA, their marriage is not recognized or respected by our federal government. That’s a disgrace,” Cathcart said. “It’s long past time for DOMA to go.”

Also on September 15, Rep. Nadler and more than 90 initial co-sponsors introduced a bill in the House of Representatives that would end such government acts of discrimination by repealing DOMA.

The new bill, named the Respect for Marriage Act, “will get the federal government back to treating marriages with respect, rather than destabilizing them,” Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry, wrote on “We can give our country the chance to remove the unfair and immoral ‘gay exception’ from federal law.” – by Nancy Ford


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