House and Senate lawmakers on Wednesday pledged to lift the Defense of Marriage Act from the books upon the introduction of legislation that would repeal the anti-gay law that bars federal recognition of same-sex marriage.
In the House, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) introduced the legislation, known as the Respect for Marriage Act, along with 108 co-sponsors. Among the supporters are the four openly gay members of Congress: Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and David Cicilline (D-R.I.).
On the same day, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), among the 14 senators who voted against DOMA in 1996, introduced companion legislation in the Senate. Among the 18 co-sponsors of the Senate bill are Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).
Feinstein’s introduction of the bill in the Senate marks the first time that DOMA repeal legislation has been put forward in the upper chamber of Congress since the law’s passage 15 years ago.
At a news conference on Wednesday, Nadler denounced DOMA for treating married same-sex couples as “complete strangers” under federal law.
“This defies common sense and harms thousands of married couples who are denied federal responsibilities and rights, including access to programs like Social Security, that other couples can count on when getting married,” Nadler said.
Baldwin said those who have been fighting DOMA since it became law have always known fairness and justice were on their side.
“Repealing DOMA is important symbolically and substantively,” Baldwin said. “Now that we have repealed ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ the Defense of Marriage Act remains the only example of overt discrimination against gays and lesbians written into our federal statutes.”
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