Washington—Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) today introduced the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill to repeal the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), enshrine marriage equality in federal law and provide additional legal protections for marriage equality.
Companion legislation was introduced yesterday in the House of Representatives by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus Chairman David Cicilline (D-R.I) and members of the LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus.
“In overturning Roe v. Wade, the conservative Supreme Court majority indicated it is willing to attack other constitutional rights, including same-sex and interracial marriage,” said Senator Feinstein. “In fact, one justice specifically noted that the court’s Obergefell decision confirming same-sex marriage should be revisited. Our bill would repeal the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act and ensure that marriage equality remains the law of the land.”
“Marriage equality is a constitutional right that has been well established by the Supreme Court as precedent and this freedom should be protected,” said Senator Baldwin. “The bipartisan Respect for Marriage Act will enshrine and protect marriage equality and make sure legal, same-sex and interracial marriages are recognized. I take great pride in being a part of this bipartisan effort to protect the progress we have made on marriage equality, because we cannot allow this freedom and right to be denied.”
“Maine voters legalized same-sex marriages in our state nearly a decade ago, and since Obergefell, all Americans have had the right to marry the person whom they love,” said Senator Collins. “During my time in the Senate, I have been proud to support legislation prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, from strengthening hate crime prevention laws, to repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ to ensuring workplace equality. This bill is another step to promote equality, prevent discrimination and protect the rights of all Americans.”
“Three weeks ago, a conservative majority on the Supreme Court not only repealed Roe v. Wade and walked back 50 years of precedent, it signaled that other rights, like the right to same-sex marriage, are next on the chopping block,” said Representative Nadler. “As this court may take aim at other fundamental rights, we cannot sit idly by as the hard-earned gains of the equality movement are systematically eroded. If Justice Thomas’s concurrence teaches anything it’s that we cannot let your guard down or the rights and freedoms that we have come to cherish will vanish into a cloud of radical ideology and dubious legal reasoning. Today, we take an important step towards protecting the many families and children who rely on the rights and privileges underpinned by the constitutional guarantee of marriage equality. The Respect for Marriage Act will further add stability and certainty for these children and families.”
“The Respect for Marriage Act will protect same-sex and interracial marriages from any radical or bigoted decision that may come from the current extreme Supreme Court majority,” said Representative Cicilline. “As chairman of the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus, I want the LGBTQ+ community to know that this caucus is fighting for them and their right to live freely. This legislation will protect their marriages and ensure they continue to be recognized, even if a future Supreme Court overturns landmark marriage equality decisions. I am proud of this bill, and I urge Congress to promptly pass this legislation.”
The Respect for Marriage Act would:
- Repeal DOMA. The Supreme Court effectively rendered DOMA inert with its landmark decisions in United States v. Windsor and Obergefell v. Hodges. This unconstitutional and discriminatory law, however, still officially remains on the books. The bill would repeal this statute once and for all.
- Enshrine marriage equality for federal law purposes. The bill requires, for federal law purposes, that an individual be considered married if the marriage was valid in the state where it was performed. This gives same-sex and interracial couples additional certainty that they will continue to enjoy equal treatment under federal law as all other married couples, as the Constitution requires.
- Provide additional legal protections. The bill prohibits any state official or anyone acting on behalf of the state from denying full faith and credit to an out-of-state marriage based on the sex, race, ethnicity or national origin of the individuals in the marriage; provides the attorney general with the authority to pursue enforcement actions; and creates a private right of action for any individual harmed by a violation of this provision.
The Respect for Marriage Act is strongly supported by leading national organizations including ACLU, Center for American Progress, Equality Federation, Family Equality, Freedom for All Americans, GLAD, Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, National Black Justice Coalition, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Women’s Law Center and PFLAG.