Respect for Marriage Act reintroduced in the U.S. Congress with record support
June 26, 2013
UPDATE 6/26: The bills now have numbers - S. 1236 and H.R. 2523 - and Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) has signed on as a co-sponsor, raising the number of Senate co-sponsors to 42.
Today, supporters of the freedom to marry in the United States Congress wasted no time in taking steps toward full and final repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, the federal law that discriminated against legal marriages between same-sex couples.
Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), reintroduced the Respect for Marriage Act, the bill that would fully repeal DOMA, this afternoon. In the House, the bill has 161 original cosponsors, and in the Senate, 41 Senators have signed on as original cosponsors. Both bills have identical language intended to fully repeal DOMA.
This morning, in a landmark decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Windsor v. United States that the central section of DOMA, Section 3, is unconstitutional. The historic ruling was the first step toward dismantling DOMA, a law that must still be fully overturned. We know that all married couples - including same-sex couples - should be treated as married by the federal government no matter where they live. But access to federal marital protections for married same-sex couples who have moved to states that discriminate against their marriages may take some work.
The reintroduction of the Respect for Marriage Act is a crucial part of that work.
Freedom to Marry founder and President applauded the reintroduction of the bill today. He said:
With today's decisive Supreme Court ruling applying constitutional command of equal protection to overturn a central part of the so-called ‘Defense of Marriage Act,' Congress should move immediately to end federal marriage discrimination once and for all. Freedom to Marry applauds the sponsors and record numbers of supporters in both the House and Senate, and calls on Congress to get DOMA off the books and make clear that, while the federal government doesn't tell states what to do, it must respect and protect all married couples throughout the U.S. As the Supreme Court today reaffirmed, in America we don't have second-class citizens, and we shouldn't have second-class marriages, either.
Congressman Nadler said today in a statement:
We should rejoice and celebrate today's ruling, but our work is not yet done. The Court has ruled that Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional, but Congress still must repeal the law in its entirety. That is why we are reintroducing the Respect for Marriage Act, which 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. We salute today's ruling. It is a tremendously important victory, but it is also a call to all of us to finish the job by passing the Respect for Marriage Act.
Senator Feinstein added:
I was one of 14 senators to oppose DOMA in 1996. Today'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 Congress strike this discriminatory law once and for all.