Congressional Democrats on Wednesday went on the offensive, introducing bills in both the House and Senate aimed at repealing the “Defense of Marriage Act.”
The push to repeal the DOMA comes on the heels of the Feb. 23 announcement by the Obama administration that the Justice Department would no longer defend the law in court, and an effort by House GOP leadership to intervene and defend the “unconstitutional” law.
The marriage equality measures, both entitled the “Respect for Marriage Act,” are spearheaded in the Senate by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).
In the U.S. House, Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) John Conyers (D-Mich.) teamed with the chamber’s four openly gay lawmakers — Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Jared Polis (D-Colo.), and David Cicilline (D-R.I.) — and more than 100 co-sponsors. But given that Republicans control the House, the bill faces steep opposition.
“The time for dumping DOMA is long overdue, and rather than prolonging litigation in the courts, Congress should act to repeal this ugly law,” Nadler said during Wednesday’s announcement.
“When Congress passed DOMA in 1996, it was not possible for a gay or lesbian couple to marry anywhere in the world. Today, tens of thousands of gay and lesbian couples are married. Far from harming the institution of marriage, these couples have embraced this time-honored tradition and the serious legal duties of civil marriage. ‘The Respect for Marriage Act’ will send this shameful law into the history books where it belongs,” Nadler said.
Baldwin said that DOMA now stands as “a symbol of bigotry and should be repealed.”
DOMA prohibits the federal government from granting married same-sex couples things like Social Security survivor benefits, health insurance for federal employees’ spouses, joint tax filing, family and medical leave and other critical protections.
On July 8, 2010, in U.S. District Court in Boston, Judge Joseph L. Tauro ruled that Section 3 of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act violated the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
In a new poll released Tuesday by the HRC reveals that a majority of American voters oppose the Defense of Marriage Act, as well as efforts by the House Republican leadership to intervene in court cases defending the law,