Bills to Fully Repeal DOMA Introduced in Congress

Shortly after yesterday's SCOTUS decisions bills to fully repeal DOMA were introduced in both houses of Congress, Freedom to Marry reports:

CapitolRepresentative Jerrold Nadler of New York and Senator Dianne Feinstein of California today reintroduced the Respect for Marriage Act, the bill that would repeal the entirety of the federal so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and assure all married couples equal treatment for all federal programs and purposes. The move swiftly followed today’s powerful ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, striking down a central part of DOMA and calling into question marriage discrimination.

The bill was introduced in both houses with identical language intended to fully repeal DOMA, which imposed a gay exception on the ordinary ways in which the federal government respects couples lawfully married in states.
Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry, released the following statement:
“With today’s decisive Supreme Court ruling applying constitutional command of equal protection to overturn a central part of the so-called ‘Defense of Marriage Act,’ Congress should move immediately to end federal marriage discrimination once and for all. Freedom to Marry applauds the sponsors and record numbers of supporters in both the House and Senate, and calls on Congress to get DOMA off the books and make clear that, while the federal government doesn’t tell states what to do, it must respect and protect all married couples throughout the U.S. As the Supreme Court today reaffirmed, in America we don’t have second-class citizens, and we shouldn’t have second-class marriages, either.”


  1. says

    So am I correct in thinking that yesterday Section 3 of DOMA was repealed/declared unconstitutional.

    And Section 2 remains, leaving States free not to recognize valid marriages contracted in other States ( or abroad)….and thereby not allow benefits whether social or otherwise.

  2. jamal49 says

    Why the hell introduce this bill? DOMA was struck down. Do either Rep. Nadler or Sen. Feinstein understand that this new bill has about a snowball’s chance in hell of passing? This is rubbing liberal salt into the right-wing’s wound which, right now, based on what I am seeing on right-wing websites, might not be necessarily a good idea. Hell, let it rest for awhile.

  3. Alex Parrish says

    @Jamal — The plaintiff in the Windsor case was told that “it isn’t time yet” before she undertook the litigation that overturned the core of DOMA. Repubs have already begun to introduce legislation to have a constitutional ban on marriage equality. Even if this bill has no chance of passage, it needs to be introduced into the process. There is no wrong time to do the right thing.

  4. RONTEX says

    Agree Alex, it should be obvious at this point that no one is going to give our rights so waiting does nothing, we have to keep pushing forward. Every time we push for equality, it forces the GOP (and other bigots) so show who they really are.

  5. EchtKultig says

    Dianne Feinstein is beginning to worry me. I’m not some Republican crazy, but on her recent meet the press appearance she appeared in a subtle state of disarray, as though she might have recently suffered a TIA.
    Agree w/Jamal that this is idiotic at this point.

  6. EchtKultig says

    “There is no wrong time to do the right thing.”
    Yes but it has no chance of passing the house so at this point it is just grandstanding.

  7. Mike says

    No, Jamal,

    DOMA was not struck down! Only section 3 of DOMA was struck down. Section 2 is still intact and is a big deal. Do some research on section 2!! Only states that already have marriage equality benefited from yesterday’s ruling on section 3. Married same sex couples living in states that do not have marriage equality STILL have zero State OR Federal marriage benefits!

  8. Shelly says

    I think there’s a lot of widespread confusion (in large part because of the wording of the majority opinion) but only section 3 of DOMA was struck down. The rest remains, even though it was clear in the SCOTUS opinion that the whole thing is unconstitutional, which means it wouldn’t likely withstand a challenge to the remaining sections. So, repealing the whole thing would just save a ton of time, effort and expense that would be spent to go through that pointless process just because opponents hope-against-hope they’ve got a chance in hell of winning on section 2.

  9. JONES says

    No. Ginsberg, Breyer and Kagan didn’t betray us.

    They voted to reject a Prop 8 ruling at SCOTUS on standing because they wanted to guarantee that a future SCOTUS wouldn’t be able to reverse the decision on improper standing. They also knew that the Ninth Circuit ruling would stand and that marriage equality would be guaranteed for all of California.

    When a case that has proper standing comes before SCOTUS they will be in our corner as they were for DOMA.

  10. Frank says

    @Mike if you got married in a state that allowed gay marriage then moved to a state that didn’t the only thing that would change is you wouldn’t get benefits for that state, but you would still get benefits from the federal government, because in their eyes as long as you got legally married you are married.

  11. anon says

    @JONES: no on both counts. The issue of standing was settled for the Prop 8 case but even if they took the case they would have still issued a final judgment. It was unusual, but both the standing issue and appeal of the decision of the ninth were at issue before the court. And, since they ruled on the standing issue (basically saying that even though CA law grants standing, the federal court system is not obligated to honor that law), the ninth’s ruling is vacated. The case now goes back to the ninth w/ instructions from the SC. The ninth can technically do anything at that point, such as overturn the district court ruling and send it back to trial (unlikely), or summarily deny the original appeal.

    This new law won’t get past the House, so it’s a nice bit of grandstanding but won’t accomplish much. DOMA will need to be tested in court again.

  12. Rich says

    Repeal of section 2 would be a good thing, just as expunging racial restrictive covenants by the California Legislature was a good thing even though it was done 50 years after the California Supreme Court ruled that they were unenforceable.

    What actually needs to happen is for Congress to declare (under Article IV Section 1) that marriages performed in one state are entitled to full faith and credit by every other state.

  13. Gay Dad ATL says

    @anon – I don’t think that’s correct. The Ninth Circuit won’t have the option of overturning the district court opinion because according the SCOTUS yesterday, the Ninth Circuit did not have jurisdiction to hear the case.

  14. JONES says

    ‘The issue of standing was settled for the Prop 8 case but even if they took the case they would have still issued a final judgment.’

    Makes no sense. Standing was not settled for SCOTUS. That’s why they were able to reject it.

    If not rejected on standing then we’d know where Ginsberg, Kagan, and Breyer stand. To insinuate they are not on the side of LGBT equality because they voted to reject Prop 8 on standing is ludicrous especially after they voted against DOMA.

    I should have said that District Court (Vaughn Walker’s) favorable ruling would stand (instead of Ninth).

    Ninth retrying Prop 8 is grasping at straws by the clueless. Technically the Ninth can retry but what would be the point? The litigants have been disqualified on standing by SCOTUS. It’s a pretty safe bet that Ginsberg, Kagan, & Breyer took this into consideration and saw marriage equality in California as guaranteed.

    Understanding their mindsets is all a bit of supposition until they actually vote and/or bios are written but until either Ginsberg, Kagan, or Breyer show me otherwise they will be defended as allies.

    I made no comment about the DOMA repeal bill but even if it doesn’t make it past this House, it will be on the record for those in opposition. A little grandstanding in support of LGBT is welcome. SCOTUS repeal of DOMA gives cover to the few conservatives in Congress that do favor equality so it might bring forth a few surprises.

  15. Francis #1 says

    Some people think that DOMA being struck down by SCOTUS means immediate equality. Not exactly. There are, first of all, regulation and law changes that need to be made—so as it stands right now, even without DOMA, we still aren’t equal under federal law, and Obama and the administration cannot do everything. There has to be regulation changes to ensure full equality, and we know that ain’t happening with this current Congress, so we’re sort of stuck right now.

    Secondly, obviously, in 37 states, there is no marriage equality at all. So there is definite need of legislation going forward to ensure equality, but I don’t see much happening.

  16. JONES says

    @Francis #1
    Not so sure, Francis.
    Kennedy’s opinion on DOMA was pretty explicit in re: societies treatment of LGBT unfairly. It’s my contention that his opinion addresses all of the 37 states who currently deny full equality and are in violation of equal protection for LGBT citizens. It’s a matter of redress through the courts until eventually (and it could come about fairly quickly) one or several litigants together with unquestionable standing will reach SCOTUS. Given Kennedy’s opinion on DOMA and dissent on Prop 8 I believe we’re not that far from a favorable SCOTUS ruling on equality under law.

    Friedman’s (favorable) ruling in DeBoer vs Michigan is right around the corner and will add fuel to the fire.

  17. Zlick says

    I don’t think it’s as important to repeal section 2 of DOMA as I did before yesterday. Apparently, section 2 has no effect – as states have always been free to disregard giving full faith and credit to marriages that go against that state’s public policy. For example, If State A allows first-cousin marriage, but State B does not … State B has never had to recognize that kissing-cousin marriage from State A.

    So this not the answer (though it would nice to formally remove DOMA from the books). More lawsuits and a return to the Supreme Court will be necessary. Passage of the Respect for Marriage Act, however unlikely, would be largely symbolic.

  18. Bob says

    Well, the repeal of DOMA is a good thing, BUT was some kind of “deal” made that would let SCOTUS gut the Civil Rights Act (which affects EVERYONE) in turn for overturning DOMA and California’s PROP 8?

    Think about the timing of these two events and do look into what the SCOTUS did to the Civil Rights Act.

    One struggle for another. One step forward, one step back.

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