Senator Leahy announces mark-up on Respect for Marriage Act

Big news out of DC today: Senator Patrick Leahy just announced that there will be a mark-up on the Respect for Marriage Act (H.R. 1116, S. 598), the bill that would repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, next month. This is a huge step forward for ending federal marriage discrimination, and we applaud Senator Leahy for his leadership. Here's what the Senator had to say this morning as he made the announcement:

“The march for equality continues, and now is the time to ensure equality for gay and lesbian Americans who are lawfully married. Next month, I will call up the Respect for Marriage Act for debate and a vote in the Judiciary Committee.  The Respect for Marriage Act would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which prevents thousands of American families from being protected by laws that help secure other American families.  This is part of the nation’s continuing fight for civil rights for all Americans.” 

Here at Freedom to Marry, we're celebrating the latest progress in what's been a momentous year for marriage on the federal level. Our founder and president Evan Wolfson applauded today's news:

“Thousands of loving and committed couples have gotten married in New York and other states since the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on the Respect for Marriage Act in July, and all of them are now enduring direct harms because of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and its double standard. It is time for Congress to repeal DOMA's discrimination, and we are pleased that Senator Leahy is moving the Respect for Marriage Act forward.” 

This year, we've played a leading role in growing the number of cosponsors in the House and Senate- since its introduction, cosponsors on the Senate version have grown from 18 to 29 and on the House version, from 108 to 128, which already surpasses last year’s total of 120. 

In July, Evan testified at the US Senate Judiciary Committee’s first-ever hearing on repealing DOMA, calling on Congress to put an end to the discriminatory law and return the federal government to its appropriate role of respecting marriages performed in the states.  In addition, Ron Wallen testified about the harm DOMA has inflicted on him after the death of his spouse. Wallen married his partner of 58 years, Tom Carrollo, in California before the freedom to marry was stripped away by Proposition 8. Carrollo died in March 2011. Because DOMA denies him access to the Social Security Survivor benefit, Wallen can no longer afford to live in the home he shared with his husband and, as a result, he is rushing to sell the home.

We'll keep you updated as we hear more about the mark-up. In the meantime, check out the federal page on our website to learn about the Respect for Marriage Act and what you can do to help repeal DOMA.