Bill Passed to repeal DOMA

Last week the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. The Human Rights Campaign successfully delivered over 135 thousand petitions calling for this repeal. The bill’s main sponsor, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California (D) fears that the bill will have no chance in the House that is controlled by Republican conservatives. Even with 31 Democratic Senate sponsors, there is Republican hindrance.

President Obama announced this past February that the law would no longer be defended by his administration. He stated recently that he supports “civil unions” but, what about “same-sex” marriages? This federal law has economically impacted all gay and lesbian couples around the nation, not giving them the same government privileges as heterosexual couples. There are currently six states which now recognize gay and lesbian marriages (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire) however, couples’ rights are still limited. They cannot file for joint federal tax returns, nor do they have spousal Social Security benefits. Also, couples are not a part of the Family and Medical Leave Law or protected from estate taxes if their partner dies.

DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) is the federal law that was signed in by President Bill Clinton in 1996. The most prevalent sections of the law are Section 2. Powers reserved to the states and Section 3. Definition of Marriage.

Section 2 states,

No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship.

Section 3 states,

In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.

In short, DOMA’s Section 3 prevents the federal government from recognizing the validity of same-sex marriages. Section 3 of DOMA also prevents Bi-national same-sex couples from legally living in the United States. One spouse cannot sponsor the other for a Green Card. After the Obama Administration determined this to be unconstitutional, the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, in obtaining a visitor’s visa, rules to treat bi-national homosexual couples just as they would bi-national heterosexual couples.

With a 10-8 majority, this repeal has been considered symbolic considering the current Republican rule of the House. However, Democrats and fellow gay right activists believe in this vote and its continuous effort to legalize same-sex marriage. Pat Leahy (D) of Vermont, called the repeal “an historic step forward in righting an injustice that goes right to the core of what we stand for in this country—freedom and equality.” Senator Al Franken (D) of Minnesota also stated that this appeal is one step in the right direction. “When we do pass it, straight people aren’t suddenly going to become gay,” he said, “We’ll do just fine, really.” I could not agree more!

In response to the repeal, HRC is launching a new national video campaign,Americans for Marriage Equalitywhich will not only include political leaders, but also average Americans, athletes and celebrities. If you would like to donate to HRC you can do so here. With the economy in its current state, people may not be able to donate. However, word of mouth is a powerful thing and that is something that is priceless! I encourage all of you to continue spreading support and education because ignorance is not bliss and we all have rights that deserve to be equal.

Below is their latest video featuring John Leguizamo. Their videos page also features Mo’Nique, Julian Bond and Cory Booker.

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