DOMA Could Be Repealed

On Wednesday, openly gay members of Congress will seek to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act

Move over, DOMA. Four openly gay members of Congress are set to introduce the Respect for Marriage Act, a measure that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act this week. According to a press statement, Reps. Jerrold Nadler and John Conyers, as well as Barney Frank, Tammy Baldwin, Jared Polis and David Cicilline, will make the case against DOMA on Wednesday in hopes of repealing the law which they say discriminates against same-sex couples.

The new legislation, which has already netted 105 co-sponsors in the House, is also being supported by Sens. Diana Feinstein, Patrick Leahy and Kirsten Gillibrand – who will introduce a companion bill in the Senate.

According to a press statement, “The Respect for Marriage Act would repeal DOMA, and comes in response to a call from President Obama for Congressional action on the issue.”

President Obama has called for an end to DOMA this year, saying, “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.”

After Obama announced that he will not defend DOMA in court, House Republicans announced that they will defend DOMA, “making the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act more critical than ever,” according to the statement.

The HRC says the main problem with DOMA is that it unlawfully singles out married same-sex couples for unequal treatment under federal law. “DOMA purports to allow states to refuse to recognize valid civil marriage of same-sex couples,” HRC says in a statement. “The law carves all same-sex couples, regardless of their marital status, out of all federal statutes, regulations and rulings applicable to all other married people, thereby denying them over 1,100 federal benefits and protections.”

Under DOMA, legally married same-sex couples cannot, for example, jointly file their taxes, take unpaid leave to care for an ailing spouse, receive spousal or surviving benefits under Social Security, receive equal family health and pension benefits as federal civilian employees, among many other rights afforded to heterosexual married couples.

Since DOMA was passed in 1996, five states and the District of Columbia have provided equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. If you also support the Respect for Marriage Act, you can use this letter as a guide to send to your local, state and national representatives.