Legislation Introduced to Repeal Discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act

by HRC Staff

50,000 people recently participated in national survey listing DOMA repeal as top priority www.RepealDOMAnow.org

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, hailed today the introduction of the Respect for Marriage Act (RMA) which would repeal the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and restore the rights of all lawfully married couples-including same-sex couples to receive the benefits of marriage under federal law. The bill also provides same-sex couples with certainty that federal benefits and protections would flow from a valid marriage celebrated in a state where such marriages are legal, even if a couple moves or travels to another state. The lead sponsors of the measure include Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO).

"The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is a hurtful and cynical law enacted to discriminate against loving, committed same-sex couples," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese, who also offered remarks at the introduction press conference. "It does real harm by denying thousands of lawfully-married same-sex couples the federal rights and benefits that only flow through marriage. Many of these include the protections couples turn to in times of need, like Social Security survivors' benefits, medical leave to care for an ailing spouse and equal treatment under U.S. immigration laws. Today's introduction of legislation to repeal DOMA is a welcome step, and as more states recognize the commitment of loving same-sex couples and their families, it's time for this law to go into the history books where it belongs."

Earlier this month, HRC launched a national action alert, an interactive website, RepealDOMAnow.org, and delivered to Congress nearly 50,000 survey responses showing the concrete harms DOMA brings to the lives of LGBT Americans and their families. The survey was commissioned in August by the Human Rights Campaign and asked a series of questions on DOMA repeal. The results of the survey showed 70 percent of respondents consider the repeal of DOMA a "top priority." To view the full survey results, visit: http://www.hrcbackstory.org/2009/09/momentum-building-for-doma-repeal

Through DOMA, which was signed into law 13 years ago, on September 21, 1996, the federal government singles out legally married same-sex couples for discriminatory treatment under federal law, selectively denying them more than 1,100 federal protections and responsibilities - including Social Security and immigration benefits - that otherwise apply to married couples. This policy is discriminatory and harmful to families, preventing the government from honoring its legal commitments and the needs of families, even though these couples have assumed the obligations of civil marriage under state law and contribute as citizens and taxpayers.

For additional information on the Respect for Marriage Act, including a factsheet, please visit: www.HRC.org/RespectForMarriage.

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