Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) Tuesday reintroduced the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and ensure that the federal government respects all valid marriages across all agencies. The bill has 42 original cosponsors in the Senate, including every returning Senator to the 114th Congress who supported the bill in the past; and 78 cosponsors in the House.
“The U.S. Supreme Court took a crucial step in dismantling the so-called Defense of Marriage Act last year, and the administration has implemented the ruling forcefully, but the job is not yet complete,” said Jo Deutsch, federal director of Freedom to Marry. “The Respect for Marriage Act seeks to fix major gaps in federal protections for married couples, especially in social security and veterans’ benefits. We must keep working to end every vestige of federal marriage discrimination and send this mean-spirited law to the dustbin of history.”
The reintroduction in the Senate includes two new cosponsors: incoming Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senator Gary Peters (D-MI). The House bill has bipartisan support, while all of the cosponsors in the Senate are Democrats.
Legally married same-sex couples continue to suffer discrimination in the areas of Social Security and veterans’ benefits, which are determined by federal law based on whether the state in which they reside respects the marriage. If a same-sex couple is legally married but lives in or moves to a state that doesn’t respect the marriage, they cannot share in these programs. The Respect for Marriage Act fixes this inequity with a provision that requires the federal government to respect all legal marriages for the purposes of all federal programs.