Senator Leahy Announces Mark-Up on Respect for Marriage Act



Press Contact:
Jackie Yodashkin
Communications Director, Freedom to Marry

(Washington, D.C., October 14, 2011) -- Today, Senator Leahy announced that there would be a mark-up on the Respect for Marriage Act (S. 598), the bill that would repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, next month.

“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,” said Evan Wolfson, founder and President of Freedom to Marry.  “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.”

Freedom to Marry has played a leading role in boosting the number of cosponsors on the bill.  From 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, Wolfson 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.

DOMA, which was enacted in 1996, deprives legally married same-sex couples of federal respect for their marriage, meaning that they are denied the more than a thousand protections that the federal government accords all other married couples – including Social Security survivor benefits, tax fairness, access to health coverage, and recognition of family ties for immigration purposes.  DOMA is being challenged in several court cases around the country, and was held unconstitutional last year by a federal judge appointed by President Nixon. 


Freedom to Marry is the campaign to win marriage nationwide. We are pursuing our Roadmap to Victory by working to win the freedom to marry in more states, grow the national majority for marriage, and end federal marriage discrimination. We partner with individuals and organizations across the country to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage and the protections, responsibilities, and commitment that marriage brings.