Legislation Introduced To Repeal Discriminatory Defense Of Marriage Act

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Mandy Simon, (202) 675-2312; media@dcaclu.org

Legislation Introduced To Repeal Discriminatory Defense Of Marriage Act

Bill Would Provide Federal Benefits To Married Same-Sex Couples

WASHINGTON - A
bill was introduced in the House of Representatives today that would
repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and respect state marriages
by providing federal protections for married same-sex couples. DOMA,
passed in 1996, authorized discrimination against lawfully married
same-sex couples. Today’s bill, the Respect for Marriage Act, was
introduced by Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Chair of the House
Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil
Liberties, Congressman John Conyers (D-MI), Chair of the House
Judiciary Committee, and several others.

 
“DOMA
singles out lawfully married same-sex couples for discriminatory
treatment under the law, denying families the more than 1,100 federal
protections and responsibilities that apply to married opposite-sex
couples,” said Michael Macleod-Ball, Acting Director of the ACLU
Washington Legislative Office. “The Respect for Marriage Act will do
more than repeal DOMA; it will promote protections for same-sex couples
who are already married. Congress should move quickly to pass this long
overdue bill.”
 
Before
DOMA was enacted, federal law deferred to states’ decisions about who
was married and who was not. As a result of a discriminatory federal
definition of marriage in DOMA, same-sex couples that are married by
their home states are nevertheless denied all of the federal benefits
and protections available to all other married couples.
 
“Discrimination
should not be the policy of our government. Excluding same-sex couples
from having the same protections as their opposite-sex neighbors – or
even other same-sex couples in another state – is unfair and wrong,”
said Christopher Anders, ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel. “Forbidding
same-sex couples from being eligible for vital federal protections
harms a huge segment of Americans.”
 
The
Respect for Marriage Act also ensures that, once the federal government
recognizes the marriage of a same-sex couple, it will continue to
recognize that marriage even if the couple moves to another state that
would not have allowed the couple to marry in the first place. The Act
does not force any state to marry same-sex couples. 
 
“Congress
must act now to repeal DOMA and enact the Respect for Marriage Act to
ensure that, no matter where a family decides to travel or move,
lawfully married same-sex couples will be eligible for the same federal
benefits available to all other married couples and won’t lose them
simply for crossing state lines,” added Anders.
To read a coalition letter in support of the Respect for Marriage Act, go to: www.aclu.org/lgbt/gen/40983leg20090911.html
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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

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