Civil Rights advocates and LGBT Americans herald new legislation to overturn one of the nation’s most discriminatory laws
Today, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO), along with Congressman John Conyers (D-MI), Congressman John Lewis (D-GA), Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) and Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), with a total of 91 original co-sponsors to date, introduced the Respect for Marriage Act in the House of Representatives. This legislation would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a 1996 law which discriminates against lawfully married same-sex couples.
The 13-year-old DOMA singles out legally married same-sex couples for discriminatory treatment under federal law, selectively denying them critical federal responsibilities and rights, including programs like social security that are intended to ensure the stability and security of American families.
The Respect for Marriage Act, the consensus of months of planning and organizing among the nation’s leading LGBT and civil rights stakeholders and legislators, would ensure that valid marriages are respected under federal law, providing couples with much-needed certainty that their lawful marriages will be honored under federal law and that they will have the same access to federal responsibilities and rights as all other married couples.
The Respect of Marriage Act would accomplish this by repealing DOMA in its entirety and by adopting the place-of-celebration rule recommended in the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act, which embraces the common law principle that marriages that are valid in the state where they were entered into will be recognized. While this rule governs recognition of marriage for purposes of federal law, marriage recognition under state law would continue to be decided by each state.