Reintroduced “Respect for Marriage Act” Seeks to Completely Repeal DOMA

All our lives changed when the Supreme Court—with the help of Miss Edie Windsor—struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which negated our marriage rights by preventing the federal government from recognizing same-sex unions. But parts of the bill are still alive and well—well, for now anyway.

Yesterday, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) reintroduced the “Respect for Marriage Act,” a bill that would fully repeal DOMA and ensure that all federal agencies would have to recognize the marriages of gay and lesbian people in the United States. The HRC explains:

“From social security benefits to veterans benefits, DOMA continues to harm families across the country,” said David Stacy, HRC’s Government Affairs Director. “Every legally married couple – no matter where they live – should have access to the full federal benefits and protections they deserve. It’s far past time for DOMA to be completely repealed once and for all. We applaud Senator Feinstein and Representatives Nadler and Ros-Lehtinen for their tireless commitment to fully repealing this discriminatory and antiquated statute.”

Prior to the June 2013 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in Windsor v. United States, DOMA singled out lawfully married same-sex couples for unequal treatment. This law discriminates in two important ways. First, Section 2 of DOMA purports to allow states to refuse to recognize valid legal marriages of same-sex couples. Second, Section 3 of the law carves all legally married same-sex couples out of all federal statutes, regulations and rulings applicable to all other married people.

The Supreme Court held Section 3 of DOMA unconstitutional in Windsor v. United States.  However, steps must still be taken to fully repeal this discriminatory law.  First, Section 2 of DOMA was not part of the Windsor case and remains unaddressed by the U.S. Supreme Court.  Second, there is no uniform standard across the federal government for determining when a couple’s marriage is valid for federal purposes.

Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey is one of the 42 original cosponsors of the bill in the Senate, and Democratic Representatives Mike Doyle and Matt Cartwright are among those who represent the Commonwealth in the House. For a full list of cosponsors, go here.