Governors Andrew Cuomo of New York, Martin O'Malley of Maryland and Jerry Brown of California are among the 15 political leaders urging Congress to eliminate the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the 1996 law that bars federal agencies and the military from recognizing the legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples.

A bill that would repeal DOMA cleared a Senate committee late last week.

In a letter released before the Senate committee vote, the elected officials voiced their support for repeal.

“Tens of thousands of loving and committed gay and lesbian couples have been strengthened because our states recognize their equal right to marry,” the letter reads. “These couples work hard, pay taxes and share the same values as other married couples but they are constantly hamstrung in their ability to protect themselves and their families because of the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act.”

Other co-signers of the letter include San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

O'Malley has pledged to shepherd a gay marriage bill through the next legislative session, which begins in January.