Anti-Family Defense of Marriage Act Harms Children

by Charles Joughin

Freedom to Marry, Human Rights Campaign Release Issue Brief on DOMA and Children of LGBT Parents

WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign and Freedom to Marry today released an issue brief documenting how the discriminatory federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) harms the children of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) parents.  The brief summarizes part of a broader report on LGBT families co-authored by the Movement Advancement Project, Center for American Progress, and Family Equality Council which was released last month. 

“We always have known DOMA was a bad, discriminatory policy” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “But this stellar research underscores the breadth of DOMA’s damage to the children of LGBT parents. There is absolutely no reason that children should be bearing the burden of such an onerous law.”

Key findings of the report, “How DOMA Harms Children,” include:

·         Children of married gay and lesbian parents don’t have guaranteed access to health insurance from their parents

·         Married same-sex couples cannot access the many federal tax credits and deductions that ease financial costs of parents with children

·         Married gay and lesbian couples can’t file joint federal tax returns and access the potential tax benefits of filing jointly

“Marriage provides a critical safety-net to loving, committed couples and their families,” said Evan Wolfson, founder and President of Freedom to Marry.  “This report confirms that in addition to denying the children of lesbian and gay couples the dignity and respect that marriage brings, DOMA penalizes kids and unjustly deprives them of the concrete protections marriage would bring to them and their families.”

Enacted in 1996, DOMA denies legally married gay and lesbian couples and their families a host of critical rights, benefits and responsibilities under federal law, such as Social Security survivors benefits, equal treatment under U.S. immigration laws, and the opportunity to take leave to care for a spouse.  This issue brief highlights how denying those rights and benefits harms not only same-sex couples, but the children they are raising, a fact recognized even by groups opposing LGBT equality.  For example, during this summer’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on repealing DOMA, Tom Minnery of the anti-gay Focus on the Family admitted, under questioning from Chairman Pat Leahy (D-VT), that children of LGBT parents are harmed by DOMA.

The issue brief is available here, and the full report, “All Children Matter: How Legal and Social Inequalities Hurt LGBT Families,” can be viewed here

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.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.


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