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 deserve.”

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 defend DOMA.