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Legislation to repeal ‘Defense of Marriage Act’ to be introduced Wednesday

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A bill to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act will be re-introduced in the U.S. House on Wednesday, along with a companion bill introduced in the U.S. Senate.

In the House, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), plans to re-introduce the “Respect for Marriage Act,” which would explicitly repeal DOMA. The bill was first introduced in September 2009 by Nadler, Rep Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), and Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.).

According to a news release, the legislation already has 105 original co-sponsors in the House. The Advocate reports:

“The Respect for Marriage Act would repeal DOMA, and comes in response to a call from President Obama for Congressional action on the issue,” the House news release reads.

“As the President has stated: ‘I stand by my long-standing commitment to work with Congress to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. It’s discriminatory, it interferes with states’ rights, and it’s time we overturned it.’

Last week, on the heels of the President’s decision not to defend DOMA in court, House Republican Leadership announced that it will defend DOMA in court, making passage of the Respect for Marriage Act more critical than ever.”

In the Senate, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is expected to introduce a similar bill in that chamber on Wednesday that would also repeal the 1996 law that defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman for purposes of all federal laws.

Last month, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Department of Justice would not defend the constitutionality of Section 3 of DOMA in two of the four cases where that section of the law is currently under challenge.

Section 3 — the part of DOMA that defines marriage for federal purposes as the union of a man and a woman — was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge in July 2010.

Last week, a bipartisan House committee, led by GOP leaders, directed the House general counsel to defend the law.

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