DOMA repeal bills filed in wake of new polling showing strong opposition to law
WASHINGTON - In the wake of new polling showing that 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. Additionally Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer are sponsors of the House bill along with over 100 co-sponsors.
The nationwide poll, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign, shows 51 percent of voters oppose DOMA while only 34 percent favor it. Independent voters, who were instrumental in the Republican House takeover, oppose this law by a 52 percent to 34 percent margin. More information is at www.hrc.org/DOMApoll2011.
"The debate over DOMA isn't about whether you favor marriage equality, it's about whether the government can pick and choose which marriages they like, and which they don't," said HRC President Joe Solmonese. "With five states and DC granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples, it's time the federal government stops playing favorites and instead creates an equal playing field for all families."
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. "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.
"When it comes to defending DOMA, House Republican leaders are wrong on the policy and wrong on the politics," said Solmonese. "It's mind boggling that Speaker Boehner would so misread the tea leaves in his urgent effort to score some cheap and temporary political points."
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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