Evan Wolfson: Respect for Marriage Act Introduced in Congress: Time to Dump “DOMA”

The Huffington Post
September 16, 2009
Evan Wolfson, Executive Director of Freedom to Marry, explains the significance of yesterday's introduction of the Respect for Marrage Act:
Six states so far, have ended gay couples' exclusion from marriage...and Americans have seen that ending that exclusion from marriage helps families and harms no one... If we do the work of enlisting more Representatives and Senators to fulfill President Obama's pledge to repeal 'DOMA,' we can pass the Respect for Marriage Act. Now is the time. [Link]

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Photo: Evan Wolfson and Tammy Baldwin Look on as Jerrold Nadler Introduces Respect for Marriage Act

A crowd of seasoned LGBT advocates including Evan Wolfson, Executive Director of Freedom to Marry and Wisconsin Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, looks on as Representative Jerrold Nadler introduces the Respect for Marriage Act in Washington D.C. on September 15, 2009. Text of Section 3 of the bill:

For the purposes of any Federal law in which marital status is a factor, an individual shall be considered married if that individual's marriage is valid in the State where the marriage was entered into or, in the case of a marriage entered into outside any State, if the marriage is valid in the place where entered into and the marriage could have been entered into in a State. [Link]

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Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenau: Proudly Changing My Position on DOMA

Huffington Post
September 15, 2009
Rep. Earl Blumenau explains "the worst vote of my political career" which he cast on July 12, 1996 in favor of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and why he will now - as a co-sponsor of Jerrold Nadler's RMA legislation introduced yesterday - "work to make sure that my colleagues...take this opportunity to correct their record and eliminate an injustice. [Link]

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The Respect for Marriage Act Garners Support of Over 90 Co-Sponsors, President Clinton, and Former R

Office of Congressman Jerrold Nadler
September 15, 2009
Today's introduction of the Respect for Marriage Act has already gained key support:

Today, following the introduction of the Respect for Marriage Act by Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO), the legislation has already gained key support from important corners. Among the bill’s backers are former President Bill Clinton, who signed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) into law in 1996, and former Congressman Bob Barr (R-GA), who first introduced DOMA. They join the dozens of civil rights organizations and 91 original co-sponsors of the bill who are pushing for a full repeal of DOMA.

Today, President Clinton said: “I want to thank Congressman Nadler for hisleadership on this issue, and Reps. Baldwin, Polis, Conyers, Lewis, Velazquez and Lee, for introducing the Respect for Marriage Act in the House of Representatives. Throughout my life I have opposed discrimination of any kind. When the Defense of Marriage Act was passed, gay couples could not marry anywhere in the United States or the world for that matter. Thirteen years later, the fabric of our country has changed, and so should this policy.”

Today, Bob Barr said: “I join with former President Bill Clinton in commending Rep. Jerry Nadler for introducing the ‘Respect for Marriage Act of 2009.’ This legislation would strengthen the principle that each state is free to set the definition of marriage the citizens of that state have adopted. Rep. Nadler’s legislation would also repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, and by so doing, remove the federal government from involving itself in matters of defining ‘marriage,’ which historically and according to principles of federalism, are properly state matters and not federal.”

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Respect for Marriage Act (RMA) Introduced

The Advocate
September 15, 2009
Congressman Jerrold Nadler of New York -- flanked by out Representatives Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Jared Polis of Colorado along with a wide swath of seasoned LGBT groups and advocates including Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry -- held a press conference Tuesday to announce the introduction of the Respect for Marriage Act, legislation co-sponsored by 91 members of the House, that would fully repeal of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. Former president Bill Clinton sent a statement in support of repealing DOMA, passed under his watch, to be read at the event. [Link]

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Federal Legislation to be Introduced Today to Repeal so-called Defense of Marriage Act

The Associated Press
September 14, 2009
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) plans today to introduce legislation to repeal the so-called federal Defense of Marriage Act, with at least 76 House co-sponsors lined up in support. [Link]

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Voice for Equality: Bill Clinton

William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton (born William Jefferson Blythe III, August 19, 1946) served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Clinton was described as a New Democrat and was largely known for the Third Way centrist philosophy of governance that came to epitomize his two terms as president. Clinton presided over the longest period of peace-time economic expansion in American history, which included a balanced budget and a reported federal surplus. He left office with the highest approval rating of any president since World War II. Learn more here.

Most relevant to the LGBT community, however, were two pieces of legislation enacted during his tenure as president: the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) military policy and the Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” arose from Clinton trying to fulfill a campaign promise to allow openly homosexual men and women to serve in the armed forces. After a heated and acrimonious debate, Congress implemented the contorted DADT military policy, which Clinton himself later described as "out of whack." Then, amid political pressure brought on by set-backs in his legislative agenda and various personal and professional scandal investigations, Mr. Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. DOMA contained two primary provisions: 1) no state needed to honor marriages of same-sex couples performed in other states, and 2) the federal government defined marriage as the legal union between one man and one woman. While many suspected both these pieces of legislation were enacted under political duress and did not reflect Mr. Clinton’s own personal beliefs, the negative impact on the LGBT community was undeniable.

Following a speech on July 8, 2009, a young journalist informally questioned Clinton about a statement he had made a month earlier in which he said his position on marriage equality was “evolving.” The reporter, Michael Tracey, asked him if he would commit to supporting the freedom to marry, to which Clinton replied:

I'm basically in support. I don't think any state should be suffering, and I think all these states that do it should do it. It's not a federal question. I personally support people doing what they want to do. I think it's wrong for someone to stop someone else from doing that. That's what I think.

Then on September 15, 2009, Clinton sent the following statement to be read at the introduction of the Respect for Marriage Act (RMA) led by Congressman Jerrold Nadler:

I want to thank Congressman Nadler for his leadership on this issue, and Reps. Baldwin, Polis, Conyers, Lewis, Velazquez and Lee for introducing the Respect for Marriage Act in the House of Representatives. Throughout my life, I have opposed discrimination of any kind. When the Defense of Marriage Act was passed, gay couples could not marry anywhere in the United States or the world for that matter. Thirteen years later, the fabric of our country has changed and so should the policy. [Link]

"President Clinton’s support for the freedom to marry has evolved over time, and shows the power we each have when we talk about why marriage matters to the people we know and help them rise to fairness," said Evan Wolfson, Executive Director of Freedom to Marry. "President Clinton has grappled with this question for a long time, and clearly he, like the country, has come a long way since fear and politics brought about such discriminatory measures as the so-called Defense of Marriage Act that he signed and now has moved past."

Freedom to Marry salutes President Bill Clinton, who's thinking evolved, as a Voice for Equality!

**Make your NOMINATION for a Voice for Equality today!

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Voice for Equality: Jerrold Nadler

Jerrold Nadler is an American politician from New York City. A Democrat, Nadler represents New York's 8th congressional district, which includes parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn in New York City.

Representative Nadler, Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, hailed the ruling by the Supreme Court of Iowa in 2009 that struck down the state’s ban on the freedom to marry.

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