For Immediate Release


Rick Jauert 202.225.4755

Congressman Keith Ellison

Ellison Original Cosponsor of Respect for Marriage Act

WASHINGTON - Congressman Keith Ellison (D-Minneapolis) recently became an original sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act. This legislation would effectively repeal a discriminatory law that was passed in 1996.  Known as the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)
allowed states to refuse to recognize valid civil marriages of same-sex
couples, and denied same-sex couples, regardless of their marital
status, the right to federal statutes, benefits and protections
(including social security) applicable to all other married people.

"I am a proud cosponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act
because I believe in equality. I believe in all people having equal
rights," Ellison said. "America started out giving certain rights for a
limited set of people - white men of property. Since then we have been
expanding rights to people of all standing - as we should - and not
taking them away as DOMA does."

Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the
Constitution, recently introduced the bill along with ninety other
Members of Congress - including Congressman Ellison. "The full repeal of DOMA is long overdue," Nadler stated.  "When DOMA
was passed in 1996, its full harm may not have been apparent to all
Members of Congress because same-sex couples were not yet able to
marry...Now, in 2009, we have thousands of married same-sex couples in
this country, living openly, raising families and paying taxes in
states that have granted them the right to marry. It has become
abundantly clear that DOMA is causing these couples concrete and lasting harm."

Since DOMA was passed thirteen years ago, six states have granted equal marriage rights for thousands of same-sex couples. DOMA,
however, has prevented the federal government from honoring these
same-sex couples the equal rights mandated them under state law. The Respect of Marriage Act would
repeal these policies and ensure same-sex couples their marriages are
protected by federal law and that they have equal access to federal
rights and responsibilities granted to all married couples.

introduction of this bill echoes President Obama's sentiments expressed
earlier this year. "I stand by my long-standing commitment to work with
Congress to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. It is discriminatory, it interferes with States' rights, and it is time we overturned it," the President stated.

community, like all Americans, is concerned about living wage jobs,
affordable and accessible health care, and good schools," Ellison
stated.   But unlike the rest of America they are denied equality under
the law when it comes to their marital status, the right to federal
statutes, benefits and protections.  That is wrong.  Enactment of The Respect for Marriage Act would rectify that injustice," Ellison concluded.


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