WASHINGTON (RSMNews) — Legislation pending in both houses of Congress would repeal the 15-year-old Defense of Marriage Act, allowing legally married same-sex couples to take advantage of the same benefits married heterosexual couples receive under federal law.
Called the Respect for Marriage Act, the legislation would end what illegal discrimination against legally married same-sex couples.
The Defense of Marriage Act, known as DOMA, says the federal government defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman and gives states the authority to reject same-sex marriages that may have been legally recognized in other states.
Same-sex marriage is legal in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and the District of Columbia.
The Obama administration announced July 19 that it supported the legislation. In February, the White House instructed the Department of Justice to stop defending the law passed by Congress and signed into law in 1996 by President Bill Clinton.
The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the legislation July 20. No hearing has been scheduled on the House version, which was assigned to the Subcommittee on the Constitution.
As of July 20, 27 senators had signed on as co-sponsors of the bill, introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. The House version, introduced by Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., had 117 co-sponsors. All of the co-sponsors are Democrats.
Daniel Avila speaking on behalf of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage says that arguments for the repeal of DOMA on grounds that it violates basic civil rights hinge on the definition of marriage itself.
“The church’s position, which is the position which agrees with that of other religions as well as secular organizations and groups, is that marriage is the union of man and woman,” Avila said. “You can’t take away the reference in the definition to sexual difference without then changing what marriage is.”
Rainbow Sash Movement takes issue with Avila and USCCB position on Gay Marriage. We believe the issue of Marriage covered by DOMA is secular issue. It is not the place of Religious authorities to tell the state who they can or cannot issue marriage licenses too. Just like it is not the states place to instruct the various religious bodies on what they should or should not believe.
DOMA clearly promotes discrimination agains Gay Couples and the USCCB should be ashamed of itself for promoting discrimination in guise of religious belief against a minority of US Citizens.
Citing federal court decisions in two Massachusetts cases that found the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, Feinstein said in a press statement July 19 at the National Press Club that the time has come to do away with the law.
“Because of DOMA, these (same-sex) couples cannot take advantage of federal protections available to every other married couple in the country,” she said. “There are over a thousand federal laws and protections that are afford to married couples but not to legally married same-sex couples in any of the states that approve same-sex marriage.”
Feinstein pointed to federal provisions that do not apply to same-sex couples under the 1996 law including the inability to file a joint income tax return and to take advantage of tax deductions for married couples, the denial of spousal benefits under Social Security, banning unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act when a partner is ill, and the prohibition of estate tax protections on inheritance.
The USCCB appears to be more concerned with promoting its dogmatic interpretation not only among lay Catholics, who are overwhelming dismissing those interpretation as shown by poll after poll; but also among non Catholics who also appear to be supporting Gay Marriage.
Richard D. Jacobs, chairman of the Los Angeles-based Courage Campaign, the online organizing network said “What we’re trying to do, very, very simply, is make sure that United States senators, members of Congress and the people of this country see the impact of the Defense of Marriage Act is … very un-American,” .
Rainbow Sash Movement News