The Respect for Marriage Act vs. the Defense of Marriage Act

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A bill was announced in the Senate in mid-July that would end the federal law that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. Senator Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., introduced the Respect for Marriage Act bill and said, “More and more people across this land know people who are gay, who want to have a lasting relationship, who look at marriage as an economic agreement as well as an emotional agreement.”

“This legislation would uphold the principle that the federal government should not deny gay and lesbian couples the same rights and legal protections as straight couples,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. President Obama has said his stance on same sex marriage is “evolving.”

On July 20 the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the repeal of President Bill Clinton’s Defense of Marriage Act, signed in 1996, which says a marriage is a “legal union between one man and one woman.” DOMA prevents same-sex couples from legally marrying, filing joint income taxes, receiving spousal benefits under Social Security and taking unpaid leave from work when a loved one is seriously ill. It also prevents couples from obtaining protections of estate tax when one spouse dies and wants to bequeath possessions to the other.

 

A bill was announced in the Senate in mid-July that would end the federal law that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. Senator Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., introduced the Respect for Marriage Act bill and said, “More and more people across this land know people who are gay, who want to have a lasting relationship, who look at marriage as an economic agreement as well as an emotional agreement.”