Saturday, October 15, 2011

Progress on Repeal of the "Defense of Marriage Act"

Sen. Patrick Leahy
In July, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) chaired a hearing on a possible repeal of the "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA). Under the act, passed in 1996, a marriage was legally defined as "only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife", and no State may be required to recognize as a marriage any same-sex relationship recognized as a marriage in another State. Furthermore, federal marriage benefits which are granted to heterosexual married couples may not be granted to their same-sex counterparts. On October 14th, 2011, Sen. Leahy issued a press release stating that he intends to schedule Committee consideration of the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal and replace DOMA. The text of the bill is as follows:

‘(a) For the purposes of any Federal law in which marital status is a factor, an individual shall be considered married if that individual’s marriage is valid in the State where the marriage was entered into or, in the case of a marriage entered into outside any State, if the marriage is valid in the place where entered into and the marriage could have been entered into in a State.

‘(b) In this section, the term ‘State’ means a State, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or any other territory or possession of the United States.’

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