A bill which seeks to repeal the
Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) continues to attract new co-sponsors.
The law, signed by President Bill
Clinton in 1996, defines marriage as a heterosexual union for federal
agencies and allows states to ignore gay marriages performed in other
states. DOMA bars legally married gay and lesbian couples from
accessing federal benefits, including Social Security and pensions.
With the sponsorship of Democratic
Senator Dianne Feinstein, the bill cleared a Senate panel last year.
“A year after introducing this
historic legislation, our movement to repeal DOMA and bring federal
law into the 21st century has made unprecedented strides,”
said New York Congressman Jerry Nadler, the sponsor of the bill in
the House. “We have seen the Senate introduce its counterpart,
hold the first ever hearing on the legislation, and pass it out of
the Senate Judiciary Committee. President Obama has now endorsed our
bill, the federal courts are hearing major cases challenging DOMA,
and two federal courts already have declared it unconstitutional.
Meanwhile, eight states and the District of Columbia have embraced
marriage equality. Every day, we are closer to sending this shameful
law into the history books and ensuring that all married couples have
the support and respect from their government that their families
The latest House members to endorse the
legislation are Representatives Suzanne Bonamici of Oregon, Hansen
Clarke of Michigan and Steve Cohen of Tennessee. The total number of
co-sponsors in the House and Senate are 140 and 31, respectively.
“Representatives Bonamici, Clarke and
Cohen are joining with their House and Senate colleagues to end
government discrimination against loving and committed gay and
lesbian couples,” said Jo Ellen Deutsch, federal director for
Freedom to Marry. “As we work to win more freedom to marry
victories in states across the country, Freedom to Marry will also
keep making the case on the Hill to overturn DOMA and ensure that
lawful marriages celebrated in the states are once again respected by
the federal government.”
President Barack Obama last year
instructed the Department of Justice to no longer defend the statute
in federal court. However, the Republican-led House intervened to