By Trudy Ring
Originally published on Advocate.com June 26 2013 7:08 PM ET
Now that the U.S Supreme Court has struck down one part of the Defense of Marriage Act, members of Congress have reintroduced legislation to finish the job.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York introduced the Respect for Marriage Act in the House today, and Dianne Feinstein of California introduced it in the Senate. Both are Democrats, but the measure does have some Republican support. The 160 House cosponsors include Republicans Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida and Richard Hanna of New York. The 41 Senate cosponsors are all Democrats or independents.
While the high court today, in its Windsor v. U.S. decision, struck down section 3 of DOMA, which prevented the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages, the Respect for Marriage Act would repeal the entire law.
“This bill ensures repeal of section 2 of DOMA, which was not at issue in the Windsor case and purports to excuse the states from even considering whether to honor the marriage of a gay [or] lesbian couple performed by a sister state,” Nadler said in a press release. “The bill also provides a uniform rule for recognizing couples under federal law, ensuring that all lawfully married couples will be recognized under federal law, no matter where they live.”
Feinstein, one of 14 senators who opposed DOMA when it was passed in 1996, said the Respect for Marriage Act “is necessary because inequities in the administration of more than 1,100 federal laws affected by DOMA — including Social Security and veterans benefits — will still need to be fixed.”
A Human Rights Campaign blog points out that under today’s ruling, “federal agencies can and must change their policies, regulations, or practices to ensure same-sex couples – regardless of where they live — have access to the federal benefits and protections they deserve. However, the Respect for Marriage Act would, in one action, create a single, government-wide rule that lawfully married same-sex couples living in states where their marriage is not recognized can equally access all federal benefits and protections.”