Two Republican members of the U.S. House have announced their support for repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the federal law that defines marriage as between one man and one woman.
U.S. Rep. Charles Bass of New Hampshire on Thursday became the third GOP House member and the second within the past week to support the Respect for Marriage Act, legislation that would repeal DOMA. Bass’ support is largely symbolic, however, as on Nov. 6 he lost his re-election bid to Democrat Ann McLane Kuster.
Last week, U.S. Rep. Richard Hanna, a first-term incumbent from upstate New York, also announced his co-sponsorship of the bill in a statement provided to The Advocate.
In addition to repealing DOMA, the Respect for Marriage Act would require the federal government to recognize the validity of same-sex marriages where legally performed, and has a “certainty provision” that would allow married same-sex couples to retain federal benefits of marriage — including certain Social Security benefits, immunity from the estate tax and the ability to jointly file income taxes — even if these couples marry in one state and to move to another that doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage.
The 2011 version of the bill was introduced by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) on March 16, 2011, and a U.S. Senate version was introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on the same day.
President Obama announced his support for the bill on July 19, 2011.
Last year, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) became the 125th co-sponsor of the bill in the U.S. House, and the first Republican member of Congress to announce support for the bill. With the addition of Bass and Hanna, the House bill now has 160 co-sponsors; the Senate version has 32.