By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
A group of House Democrats have introduced legislation aimed at overturning the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which denies recognition of gay marriage and gives states the right to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
According to a report by Fox News, the Respect for Marriage Act, unveiled by Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Jared Polis (D-CO) on Tuesday, has the support of more than 90 lawmakers.
During a Capitol Hill press conference, Rep. Nadler said the Respect for Marriage Act is the first step for overturning DOMA “and sending that ugly law into the history books where it belongs.”
The bill ensures that all married couples, including lawfully married same-sex couples, will have the same access to federal responsibilities and benefits, including Social Security programs. It would only facilitate federal recognition of same-sex marriage – not civil unions or domestic partnerships because these are different in every state.
However, the bill will contain a “certainty provision” which would allow same-sex couples to receive the federal benefits of marriage even if they move to a state that doesn’t recognize their union.
Rep. Nadler admitted that the task of passing the bill will not be easy, but said he believes that “with a president who is committed to repealing and the broad, diverse coalition of Americans at our side … we can and we will dump DOMA once and for all.”
At the briefing, Rep. Nadler read a statement by former President Bill Clinton, who signed DOMA into law in 1995.
“Throughout my life I have opposed discrimination of any kind,” Clinton said, according to Nadler. “When the Defense of Marriage Act was passed, gay couples could not marry anywhere in the United States or the world for that matter. Thirteen years later, the fabric of our country has changed, and so should this policy.”
While the bill is not schedule for a floor vote any time soon, the proposal belies the intent of gay activists and their legislative allies to get something done while the Democrats still control both Congress and the White House. In fact, Rep. Nadler’s office confirmed that the legislation was written “with the cooperation” of LGBT and civil rights “stakeholders and legislators.”
Legislators in favor of protecting traditional marriage have responded to the introduction of the new bill with a renewed call to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to consider the Marriage Protection Amendment.
“The Defense of Marriage Act was signed into law 13 years ago by a Democratic President because lawmakers began to see the assault on traditional marriage,” said Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA), who sponsored the Amendment.
“Over a decade later, traditional marriage, a principle tenant in our Judeo-Christian values – is under assault more than ever before. This is why I was extremely disappointed to see my liberal colleagues introduce legislation today to repeal the bipartisan Defense of Marriage Act.”
Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women for America (CWA), also criticized the effort to repeal DOMA.
“The citizens of 39 states have worked hard to pass legislation and constitutional amendments to protect marriage as the union between one man and one woman,” she said. “DOMA ensures the integrity of our constitutional system and the will of Americans. . . “
Shari Rendall, Director of Legislation and Public Policy at CWA said that homosexual activists and their congressional allies are making the “outrageous claim” that protecting marriage is a form of discrimination.
Rendall asserted that overturning marriage laws will result in “reverse discrimination” against those who believe marriage is between one man and one woman.
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