Democrats reintroduce DOMA repeal bill on opening of 114th Congress

U.S. Capitol

U.S. Capitol

WASHINGTON — Democratic lawmakers kicked off the 114th Congress on Tuesday by reintroducing the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill that would fully repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.

U.S. Capitol

U.S. Capitol

U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) introduced the bill in the U.S. House, aimed at ensuring all legally married, same-sex couples are treated equally under federal law. U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced the companion bill in the Senate.

“We must finish the job begun by the Supreme Court by passing the Respect for Marriage Act,” said Nadler. “The Supreme Court has ruled that Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional, but Congress still must repeal the law in its entirety.”

With more than 70 percent of the U.S. population living in states where same-sex marriage is now legal, Nadler said the full repeal of DOMA “is long overdue.”

“The vast majority of Americans live in states where same-sex couples can marry and public support for marriage equality is growing stronger by the day. Repeal of DOMA is long overdue.

“The bill provides a uniform rule for recognizing couples under federal law, ensuring that lawfully married couples will be recognized under federal law no matter where they live and guaranteeing that all families can plan for a future of mutual obligation and support with confidence,” he said.

In June 2014, one year after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Windsor v. United States, the Department of Justice issued a report concluding that without legislation, married same-sex couples will continue to be denied critical federal benefits.

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Specifically, the report concluded the government could not issue Social Security or veterans’ benefits to some married, same-sex couples because the agencies “are required by law to confer marriage-related benefits based on the law of the state in which the married couple reside or resided, preventing the extension of benefits to same-sex married couples” in certain states.

The House measure has 79 original co-sponsors, and the Senate bill has 41. But with only one GOP co-sponsor — Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) — in a Republican-controlled Congress, the bill is unlikely to see progress this year.

The bill was first introduced in Congress in 2009, four years prior to the DOMA ruling.

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