Sponsors of the Respect for Marriage Act said Tuesday the bill has exceeded 100 co-sponsors. Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Jared Polis (D-CO) introduced the bill that would repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) at a Washington outdoor press conference in September.
DOMA was signed into law by President Bill Clinton 13 years ago. The law defines marriage as a heterosexual union for federal agencies and allows states to ignore gay marriages performed in other states. Under DOMA legally married gay and lesbian couples cannot access federal benefits, including Social Security and pensions.
“Only weeks following the introduction of the Respect for Marriage Act, we have the support of over 100 members of Congress for this historic bill,” Nadler said in a statement.
“This progress demonstrates in no uncertain terms that support for our legislation is growing every day and that there is broad support from across the country to repeal DOMA now. Gay and lesbian Americans simply must not be the target of discrimination under federal law,” he added.
DOMA has been under intense fire since President Obama's Department of Justice defended the law in a California lawsuit that aimed to overturn the statute. That suit has since been dismissed on a technicality, but petitioners have vowed to refile their challenge. In filing their final brief, administration lawyers greatly reined in the anti-gay sentiment of their arguments.