Statement by NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell

(San Francisco, CA, March 16, 2011)—Today, members of Congress reintroduced the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill to repeal the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act,” or DOMA, the 1996 law that prohibits the federal government from recognizing the marriages of same-sex couples and excludes same-sex couples from all marriage-based protections under federal law.

Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Barney Frank (D-MA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jared Polis (D-CO), David Cicilline (D-RI), and John Conyers (D-MI), along with more than 100 co-sponsors, are the lead authors of the Respect for Marriage Act in the House of Representatives. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) are the lead authors of a companion bill introduced today in the U.S. Senate.

The introduction of the legislation comes three weeks after Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Department of Justice would no longer defend DOMA’s denial of all federal benefits to married same-sex couples in court.

President Obama has also stated that the Defense of Marriage Act is discriminatory and unfair, and he has pledged to work with Congress to
overturn it.

NCLR is part of a coalition of organizations supporting the “Respect for Marriage Act”. Read the letter of support.

Statement by NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell:

“This long overdue legislation will correct a shameful low-point in our nation’s history. DOMA was passed in a moment of ugly anti-gay bigotry. Every day that it stays on the books, DOMA harms families, stigmatizes our relationships, and perpetuates a climate of hostility for all LGBTQ people.”

The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.