Urge the United States House of Representatives, the United States Senate, and President Obama to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) by passing the Respect for Marriage Act (H.R. 1116/S. 598).
What is the Respect for Marriage Act (RMA)?
The Respect for Marriage Act (RMA), sponsored by U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY 8) and U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), repeals DOMA and restores the rights of all lawfully married couples-including same-sex couples-to receive the benefits of marriage under federal law. The bill also provides same-sex couples with certainty that federal benefits and protections would flow from a valid marriage celebrated in a state where such marriages are legal, even if a couple moves or travels to another state.
What is the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)?
In 1996, the United States Congress passed DOMA and was signed into law by then President Clinton. DOMA singles out lawfully married same-sex couples for unequal treatment under federal law. DOMA purports to allow states to refuse to recognize valid civil marriages of same-sex couples. Also DOMA carves all same-sex couples, regardless of their marital status, out of all federal statutes, regulations, and rulings applicable to all other married people-thereby denying them over 1100 federal benefits and protections.
Not only does DOMA deny homosexuals their civil rights to marry, but it also prevents homosexual couples to file their taxes jointly, take unpaid leave to care for a sick or injured spouse, receive equal family health and pension benefits as federal civilian employees and receive spousal, mother's and father's, or surviving spouse benefits under Social Security.
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) singles out lawfully married same-sex couples for unequal treatment under federal law. This law discriminates in two important ways. First, Section 2 of DOMA purports to allow states to refuse to recognize valid civil marriages of same-sex couples. Second, Section 3 of the law carves all same-sex couples, regardless of their marital status, out of all federal statutes, regulations, and rulings applicable to all other married people—thereby denying them over 1,100 federal benefits and protections.
For example, legally married same-sex couples cannot:
-File their taxes jointly
-Take unpaid leave to care for a sick or injured spouse
-Receive spousal, mother’s and father’s, or surviving spouse benefits under Social Security
-Receive equal family health and pension benefits as federal civilian employees
Since DOMA’s passage in 1996, five states and the District of Columbia have provided equal marriage rights for same-sex couples, and two other jurisdictions recognize marriages of same-sex couples celebrated in other states and abroad. Thousands of couples have married since Massachusetts issued marriage licenses in 2004. Same-sex couples may marry in Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. California recognizes (the more than 18,000) same-sex marriages performed in California before the passage of Proposition 8. New York and Maryland recognize same-sex marriages celebrated in other states, but do not grant civil marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Because of DOMA, the federal government is not honoring their equal obligations under state law.
What will the Respect for Marriage Act (RMA) do?
By repealing Section 2 of DOMA, the Respect for Marriage Act returns to traditional principles of comity and Full Faith and Credit. Under RMA, same-sex couples and their families would be eligible for important federal benefits and protections such as family and medical leave or Social Security spousal and survivors' benefits, but the federal government could not grant state-level rights. The bill does not require states that have not yet enacted legal protections for same-sex couples to recognize a marriage. Nor does it obligate any person, state, locality, or religious organization to celebrate or license a marriage between two persons of the same sex. This legislation only requires the federal government to equally apply its policy of looking to the states in determining what legal relationships are eligible for federal benefits.
What can you do to get the Respect for Marriage Act passed?
Please write to and/or call your U.S. Representatives and Senators and President Obama tell them to pass the Respect for Marriage Act (H.R. 1116/S. 598). Also ask your U.S. Representatives and Senators to co-sponsor the Respect for Marriage Act.
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