Repealing the federal "Defense of marriage act of 2011" (DOMA)
2011-JUL to OCT: Congressional activity (Cont'd)
Launching of the Respect for Marriage Act of 2011
Text of the Respect for Marriage Act of 2011 bill:
The text is quite simple and easy to understand. It reads:
SEC. 3. MARRIAGE RECOGNITION.
Section 7 of title 1, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:
"§ 7. Marriage
"(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." 1
In essence, this amendment repeals DOMA and nullifies DOMA's denial of states rights. It would confirm the historical right of all states to define who can marry and have the state's decision automatically recognized by the Federal Government. This had been the tradition from time that America was created until 1966 when DOMA was passed.
The word "respect" in the title of the billrefers to the Federal Government respecting and accepting the decision of individual states to define marriage within their borders.
2011-SEP-08: Co-sponsors for the Respect for Marriage Act of 2011 accumulate:
Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) agreed to co-sponsor S.598, the "Respect for Marriage Act." As noted previously, the name of this bill refers to the lack of respect that the existing Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) has towards same-sex couples who have been married in the District of Columbia and one of the (currently) six states that permit such marriages. In each jurisdiction, married same-sex couples receive all of the protections, grants, privileges, and obligations of opposite-sex married couples obtain at marriage, but none of the federal protections, grants, privileges, and obligations.
She is the 30th senator to sponsor or co-sponsor S.598.
What is the probability that the Respect for Marriage Act will pass any time soon?
It appears that the bill's chance of being passed in the House is essentially zero.
"jpmassar" commented in the Daily Kos:
"It will be years before the constitutional question will reach the Supreme Court, and/or it will take years before a majority of the House ... [and] Senate can agree to repeal it. But every repeal-supporting citizen, Senator, US Representative and court decision brings us closer to that day." 2
Recall that during 2010-DEC, the House voted on an a stand-alone amendment that would benefit the lesbian, gay, bisexual (LGB) community. It started a possible repeal process for the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. That policy allowed LGBs to serve in the U.S. military as long as they stayed deeply in "the closet." Any LGB service member who went public with their sexual orientation would be discharged. At the time, 83% of the public supported the DADT repeal. Yet 92% of the Republican Representatives voted against the measure. National support for same-sex marriage (SSM) is only 53% as of 2011. If the national Republican Party continues its current policy of resisting bills that benefit LGBs, it will probably take decades before support for SSM exceeds 83% and there is significant support for a repeal of DOMA by the Republican Party. So, unless the Democratic Party -- whose members almost universally support a repeal of DOMA -- obtains a majority in both the House and Senate in a future election, there is essentially no possibility of DOMA being repealed. It will take years before the U.S. Supreme Court will decide on the constitutionality of DOMA.
2011-OCT-01: Presidential support for repeal of DOMA:
In a speech before the Human Rights Campaign, the largest orgaqnization promoting equality for the LGBT community said:
''I vowed to keep up the fight against the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. There's a bill to repeal this discriminatory law in Congress, and I want to see that passed. But until we reach that day, my administration is no longer defending DOMA in the courts. I believe the law runs counter to the Constitution, and it's time for it to end once and for all. It should join 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' in the history books.'' 3
2011-OCT-15: House increases budget to defend DOMA:
Republicans in the House voted to increase the legal fees budget for the defense of the constitutionality of DOMA by a million dollars, to total 1.5 million.' 4
2011-OCT: Senate Committee to mark-up and vote on repeal bill:
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) announced that the Senate Judiciary Committee of which he is chairperson, will hold a mark-up and vote on the Respect for Marriage Act. He said:
"The march for equality continues, and now is the time to ensure equality for gay and lesbian Americans who are lawfully married. ... [The bill] would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which prevents thousands of American families from being protected by laws that help secure other American families. This is part of the nation’s continuing fight for civil rights for all Americans."
Since all 10 Democrats on the committee both support the bill and are sponsors or co-sponsors of the bill, its passages through the committee is assured. However the Republicans in the Senate will undoubtedly go against the will of the American public and try to stop the bill via a filibuster. 4,5
Reader Neal Sears, who uses a novel symbol to identify himself, posted a brief comment to the Politico.com article:
"Thank God that patriots in the house will stoip [sic] this amoral BS!" 3
He probably meant to write "immoral" here because "amoral" means "neither moral nor immoral." I remain confused about his reference to "banana shake" (BS) -- one of my personal favorite flavors.
Reader Stevin Nelson-Anderberg also posted a comment to the article:
"I would love this to be the start of something beautiful for all Americans.
My husband and I had our civil union in Vermont seven years ago; and our wedding in Massachusetts six years ago. We were surrounded by family and friends. Most of them had a rip-roaring good time. Sure not every person there was totally comfortable but we weren't necessarily comfortable at their weddings either over the years.
But to get to the point, the wedding is just a day; marriage is a life. My husband and I have a wonderful life and we share the love with those around us. All the while we work full time and our nurture our children. We deserve the full rights and privileges of any married couple in the United States of America. We shouldn't have to pay taxes as two single people. We shouldn't have to do extra legal paperwork to ensure that each other is protected to inherit our mutually owned property.
Marriage is a civil institution. Taxes are a civil construct. Love is a human experience.
Let's truly hope that DOMA will fall and America will move one step closer to its full potential.
Peace out." 3
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- "To repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and ensure respect for State regulation
of marriage," at: http://feinstein.senate.gov/
- "jpmassar," "And Senator Mikulski Makes Thirty!," Daily Kos, 2011-SEP-09, at: http://www.dailykos.com/
- Chris Geidner, "Strong Words, But Still Evolving. At HRC Obama gives tough talk to GOP opponents, later tells ABC News he's 'still working' on marriage equality," Metro Weekly, 2011-OCT-06, at:
- "Scott,"US: Senate Committee to Hold Defense of Marriage Act Repeal Hearing," Gay Marriage Watch," 2011-OCT-15, at: http://purpleunions.com/
- "Senate Judiciary Committee set to repeal DOMA," Politico, 2011-OCT-14, at: http://www.politico.com/
Copyright © 2011 by Ontario
Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2011-SEP-11
Latest update: 2011-NOV-03
Author: B.A. Robinson