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Repeal of DOMA gets new attention in wake of Obama's support of gay marriage

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posted on May, 13 2012 @ 03:39 AM
Repeal of DOMA gets new attention in wake of Obama's support of gay marriage
The Hill -- By Kevin Bogardus - 05/12/12 08:10 AM ET

With the recent political "discussions" about same sex marriage, some legislators at the Federal level are talking about repealing the DOMA law.

The DOMA law is The Defense of Marriage Act enacted in 1996.

The law has plenty of controversies and actually prohibits Federal agencies like the IRS from recognizing same sex couples as "married" for tax purposes.

"The Respect for Marriage Act" is a proposal that seemingly would "legalize" same sex marriage.

Legislation to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is garnering new attention from lawmakers in the wake of President Obama's support of same-sex marriage.

The Respect for Marriage Act would repeal DOMA and afford federal protections to legally married same-sex married couples, like those in New York state and elsewhere, that male and female couples already enjoy. Since Obama's statement Wednesday, the bill has picked up new co-sponsors and Democratic leaders, like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.), have said they would support legalizing same-sex marriage.

That has given new hope to activists lobbying for the bill, such as Jo Deutsch, federal director for Freedom to Marry. Deutsch told The Hill that White House support of same-sex marriage can guide lawmakers through the same evolution on the issue that the president just completed.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), who introduced the Respect for Marriage Act in the House, said Obama’s statement has helped move the bill. Nadler noted that when he first offered a repeal of DOMA in 2009, he couldn’t find a Senate partner for the legislation.

“It certainly puts the bill in a better light. It changes the background and it has an impact in moving the bill forward,” Nadler said. “The bill is developing more and more momentum.”


The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) (Pub.L. 104-199, 110 Stat. 2419, enacted September 21, 1996, 1 U.S.C. § 7 and 28 U.S.C. § 1738C) is a United States federal law that defines marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman. The law passed both houses of Congress by large majorities and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on September 21, 1996.

Under the law, no state or other political subdivision of the U.S. may be required to recognize as a marriage a same-sex relationship considered a marriage in another state. Section 3 of DOMA codifies the non-recognition of same-sex marriage for all federal purposes, including insurance benefits for government employees, Social Security survivors' benefits, and the filing of joint tax returns. This section has been found unconstitutional in two Massachusetts court cases and a California bankruptcy court case, all of which are under appeal. The Obama administration announced in 2011 that it had determined that Section 3 was unconstitutional and, though it would continue to enforce the law, it would no longer defend it in court. In response, the House of Representatives undertook the defense of the law on behalf of the federal government in place of the Department of Justice (DOJ).


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