Senate to Hold Historic Markup of Bill to Repeal Discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act

by Carolyn Simon

HRC Commends Chairman Leahy and Feinstein for Pushing Ahead on Critical Issue


Washington – The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, today praised Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy’s announcement that the panel would soon hold a markup on the bill to repeal the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act.  DOMA bans the federal government from recognizing legally married same-sex couples and denies loving and committed families equal benefits and equal dignity.

“This markup is an incredible step toward ending federal marriage discrimination that causes real harm to American families,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “Chairman Leahy and Senator Feinstein have been leaders in this fight and we applaud them for continuing the momentum against this unjust law.”

The Respect for Marriage Act – the DOMA repeal bill – had a hearing before the committee in July where HRC President Joe Solmonese testified.  It was the first time that DOMA had a hearing in Congress since its enactment 15 years ago and this markup represents another historic first.

“The federal government shouldn’t be in the business of picking which marriages it likes and which it doesn’t, but that’s exactly what DOMA does,” said Solmonese. “The reality of DOMA is heart-wrenching discrimination against loving 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, the guarantee of family and medical leave and the ability to file joint tax returns, among many others.  51 percent of voters oppose DOMA while only 34 percent favor it, according to a March 2011 poll by HRC and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research.

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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