Senate Judiciary Committee Hears Testimony on Respect for Marriage Act
July 20, 2011
Today, HRC President Joe Solmonese testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in favor of the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill that would repeal the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Witnesses spoke in support of the bill, giving many gut-wrenching examples of how DOMA has negatively impacted their lives.
This is the first time the issue of repealing DOMA has had a hearing in Congress since its enactment nearly 15 years ago. Additionally, under Sen. Feinstein’s leadership this Congress marks the first time a DOMA repeal bill has ever been introduced in the U.S. Senate.
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, the guarantee of family and medical leave and the ability to file joint tax returns, among many others.
At the hearing this morning, Solmonese told the story of Rachel Black and Lea Matthews from the Bronx, who were present in the room with their five-year old daughter, Nora. With marriage now a reality for gay and lesbian couples in New York, Rachel and Lea are excited to be tying the knot at long last. As Solmonese explained, “Rachel and Lea worry about the important protections their family will still be denied, like unpaid leave from work for one to care for the other if she gets sick, or the ability to continue health coverage for their family if one of them gets laid off.”
You can read the written statements of the witnesses who testified in favor of the bill by clicking on their names below.
You can also watch Joe's testimony below.
Photos by Tom Williams/HRC
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