Congressman Deutch, a devoted advocate on behalf of equal rights for gay, lesbian, bixesual, and transgender Americans, has cosponsored with Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) the Respect for Marraige Act of 2011. The legislation would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a 1996 law that discriminates against lawfully married gay and lesbian couples. The 15-year-old DOMA singles out legally married gay and lesbian couples for discriminatory treatment under federal law, selectively denying them critical federal responsibilities and rights, including programs like Social Security that are intended to ensure the stability and security of American families.
"With President Obama's announcement that the Department of Justice will no longer be defending this discriminatory law, now is the time for Congress to swiftly repeal the Defense of Marriage Act," said Congressman Deutch. "There are thousands of gay and lesbian married couples throughout the United States who have been denied the responsibilities and rights that come with marriage under federal law. I am proud to join my Democratic colleagues in the House and Senate in support of marriage equality for all Americans, and hope that my Republican colleagues will join us by dropping their ruthless defense of this shameful law."
The Respect for Marriage Act represents the consensus approach endorsed by the nation’s leading LGBT and civil rights stakeholders and legislators, and would ensure that valid marriages are respected under federal law, providing couples with much-needed certainty that they will have the same access to federal responsibilities and rights as all other married couples. The Respect of Marriage Act adopts the place-of-celebration rule recommended in the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act, which embraces the common law principle that marriages that are valid in the state where they were entered into will be recognized. While this rule governs recognition of marriage for purposes of federal law, marriage recognition under state law would continue to be decided by each state.
Supporters of DOMA argued in 1996 that the law is necessary to promote family structures that are best for children, but every credible medical, social science and child welfare organization has concluded that gay and lesbian couples are equal parents. Married gay and lesbian couples pay taxes, serve their communities and raise children like other couples. Their contributions and needs are no different from anyone else’s. The Respect for Marriage Act would ensure that couples who assume the serious legal duties of marriage are treated fairly under federal law.