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Members of the U.S. House and Senate make moves toward DOMA repeal

November 3, 2011

We applaud the 133 members of the U.S. House of Representatives who took a stand for fairness as signatories on an amicus brief filed today in the First Circuit.

In Gill v. OPM, the district court ruled that Section 3 of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. DOMA is a 1996 law requiring the federal government to single out legally married same-sex couples for discriminatory treatment under federal law, selectively denying those couples more than 1,100 federal protections and responsibilities that otherwise apply to married couples.

The Gill case was brought by GLAD in federal district court  in Massachusetts on behalf of married same-sex couples and widowers who are challenging the federal government’s denial of marriage-related protections and benefits based on DOMA.

The Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, under the leadership of Speaker Boehner, has fervently sought to defend DOMA in court. The brief filed today argues that there is no rational basis for DOMA.

Meanwhile, in an effort to repeal DOMA through Congress, the Senate Judiciary Committee today began considering the Respect for Marriage Act. This may carry over to next week with a possible vote occurring as early as Thursday, Nov. 10.

We are advocating for passage of this important bill.  Earlier this year, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey submitted written testimony at the historic first-time hearing on the repeal of DOMA, highlighting the heartbreaking impact of the law on same-sex couples and their families, stating:

It is shocking that in 2011, legally married couples in the United States are being singled out and selectively denied fundamental rights by their own federal government. Too many have been hurt for too long because of DOMA, and its repeal is long overdue.

Repealing DOMA will increase access to benefits that are crucial to economic security. We urge the Senate Judiciary Committee to do the right thing next week and vote to end this discriminatory chapter in our nation’s history.

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