Lawmakers Introduce DOMA Repeal Bill
March 16, 2011
UPDATE 2:20 PM: The Senate announcement introducing a DOMA-repeal bill is now underway. Here are some comments by lawmakers at this morning's House announcement:
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY): "The time for dumping DOMA is long overdue, and rather than prolonging litigation in the courts, Congress should act to repeal this ugly law… When Congress passed DOMA in 1996, it was not possible for a gay or lesbian couple to marry anywhere in the world. Today, tens of thousands of gay and lesbian couples are married. Far from harming the institution of marriage, these couples have embraced this time-honored tradition and the serious legal duties of civil marriage. The Respect for Marriage Act will send this shameful law into the history books where it belongs."
Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA): "Years of experience with same-sex marriage in several states has conclusively refuted the arguments of DOMA that were never valid in the first place. It stands now only as a symbol of bigotry and should be repealed."
Rep. Tammie Baldwin (D-WI): "The administration's decision not to defend DOMA intensifies the urgent need to repeal this discriminatory law... Anything less than full equality is most likely unconstitutional, and most certainly un-American."
Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI): "Discrimination of any kind against a person based on their sexual orientation is just wrong and it should be prohibited by law."
Today is a major day in the fight for winning marriage nationwide: lawmakers in the House and Senate are introducing a pair of bills to repeal the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act" – and momentum is on our side, with a new poll showing that a majority of Americans oppose the law. Freedom to Marry Founder and President Evan Wolfson joined legislators on Capitol Hill for the official announcement on the Respect for Marriage Act.
The House bill already has more than 100 co-sponsors. The lead sponsors are Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Barney Frank (D-MA), Tammie Baldwin (D-WI), Jared Polis (D-CO), David Cicilline (D-RI), and John Conyers (D-MI). Rep. Nadler introduced a repeal bill in 2009, but there was not a Senate version to go along with it. This time, a Senate bill is being introduced by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Chris Coons (D-DE) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)
"Today Freedom to Marry is ramping up the campaign needed to overturn DOMA and return the federal government to its longstanding practice of honoring marriages celebrated in the states – without a 'gay exception,'" Wolfson said.
Every day that DOMA remains in effect, real families are hurt, whether it's a widowed spouse who could lose his or her home because of an unfair inheritance tax, or a binational couple facing being torn apart because of one partner's immigration status.
Also on Capitol Hill today is our new Federal Director, Jo Deutsch, who is opening a Washington office for us and will guide the bills through congress and end federal marriage discrimination once and for all.
"This is a superb choice for Freedom to Marry," added Congresswoman Baldwin. "I've worked closely with Jo for many years, and know how effective she is at building coalitions and making the most persuasive case in Washington. I am thrilled to have the chance to work with her in our efforts to ensure that everyone’s marriage is fully respected at the federal level."
We're far from alone in this fight. A poll released yesterday found that a majority of American voters oppose DOMA, as well as efforts by the House Republican leadership to defend the law in court. Only 34% are in favor of DOMA. Significant majorities also favor granting the same federal benefits to married same-sex couples that straight couples get, like the ability to file a joint tax return or add a spouse to federal employee health insurance. DOMA blocks these benefits, even for gay couples legally married in the states.
President Obama has called repeatedly for DOMA to be repealed. But he has not yet publicly voiced his support for the freedom to marry itself. Freedom to Marry has joined with major figures from entertainment, sports, and business to urge the in an open letter President Obama to say, "I do" to marriage for all. You can join them and nearly 30,000 other marriage supporters by adding your name to the letter here: