House and Senate Bills to Repeal DOMA, End Federal Marriage Discrimination
March 16, 2011 by Michael Cole-Schwartz, Director of Communications
In the wake of new polling from HRC that shows Americans oppose the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), bills were filed in the House and Senate today to repeal DOMA and end federal discrimination against legally married same-sex couples. The Respect for Marriage Act (RMA) was introduced in the House by Reps. Jerry Nadler, John Conyers, Barney Frank, Tammy Baldwin, Jared Polis and David Cicilline and for the first time in the Senate by Sens. Dianne Feinstein, Patrick Leahy and Kirstin Gillibrand. Significantly, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer are sponsors of the House bill along with over 100 co-sponsors.
HRC President Joe Solmonese spoke at the press conference today along with Reps. Nadler, Frank, Baldwin, Polis, Cicilline and Conyers as well as three women affected by DOMA and other advocates:
DOMA prevents any of the over 1,100 federal rights, benefits and responsibilities of marriage from being afforded to legally married same-sex couples. These include Social Security survivor benefits, federal employee health benefits for spouses, protections against spouses losing their homes in cases of severe medical emergencies, the right to sponsor a foreign born partner for immigration and the ability to file joint tax returns among many others.
“In 1996, DOMA was just hypothetical discrimination because every state excluded same-sex couples from marriage,” said Solmonese in a press release today. “Today we see it in much more concrete terms – as tangible, heart-wrenching, real-life discrimination.”
In contrast to today’s DOMA repeal bills, House Republican leaders announced last week their intention to wade into the legal battle over the law by hiring their own attorneys to defend the law in court. Unanswered are questions about how much it will cost considering there are at least nine federal lawsuits spanning three appellate courts and four district courts in six states challenging the constitutionality of Section 3 of DOMA. The HRC poll shows 54 percent of voters oppose the House Republicans’ intervention, while only 32 percent support it.
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