In reintroducing his bill to repeal the
Defense of Marriage Act, New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler said it was
time to dump the law.
“The time for dumping DOMA is long
overdue, and rather than prolonging litigation in the courts,
Congress should act to repeal this ugly law,” Nadler said.
Nadler reintroduced the Respect for
Marriage Act at a press conference on Wednesday.
The Democrat first proposed his bill in
September 2009. The measure, which would end DOMA, the Clinton-era
law that bans federal agencies from recognizing the legal marriages
of gay and lesbian couples and allows states to ignore such marriages
from other states, quickly rounded up over 100 co-sponsors in its
first 30 days and then fizzled without a companion Senate bill.
“When Congress passed DOMA in 1996,
it was not possible for a gay or lesbian couple to marry anywhere in
the world,” Nadler added. “Today, tens of thousands of gay and
lesbian couples are married. Far from harming the institution of
marriage, these couples have embraced this time-honored tradition and
the serious legal duties of civil marriage. The Respect for Marriage
Act will send this shameful law into the history books where it
The House's four openly gay members –
Representatives Barney Frank of Massachusetts, Tammy Baldwin of
Wisconsin, Jared Polis of Colorado and David Cicilline of Rhode
Island – also spoke at the event.
“Years of experience with same-sex
marriage in several states has conclusively refuted the arguments of
DOMA that were never valid in the first place,” said Frank. “It
stands now only as a symbol of bigotry and should be repealed.”
The new push to end the law was spurred
in part by Attorney
General Eric Holder's announcement that he and President Barack
Obama believe parts of the law to be unconstitutional, Nadler told
The Huffington Post.
“The administration's decision not to
defend DOMA intensifies the urgent need to repeal this discriminatory
law,” said Baldwin. “Anything less than full equality is most
likely unconstitutional, and most certainly un-American.”
“Discrimination of any kind against a
person based on their sexual orientation is just wrong and it should
be prohibited by law,” said Cicilline in adding his support for the
Three Democratic senators, Dianne
Feinstein of California, Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Kirsten
Gillibrand of New York, have signed on to introduce similar
legislation in the Senate. Their announcement is expected later
In 1996, Leahy voted in favor of DOMA.
But in 2009, he told Vermont Public Radio that he had reversed his
position. Feinstein has always opposed the law.
Republican House Speaker John Boehner
will defend the law, now that Obama will not.
poll released on Tuesday shows a majority of Americans oppose DOMA.