Respect for Marriage Act would repeal DOMA, enshrine marriage equality, and provide legal protections for marriage equality

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Diane Feinstein (D-CA), and Susan Collins (R-ME) announced the introduction of the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), enshrine marriage equality for the purposes of federal law, and provide additional legal protections for marriage equality. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus Chairman David Cicilline (D-RI) introduced companion legislation in the House.

“Marriage equality is a constitutional right that has been well established by the Supreme Court as precedent, and this freedom should be protected,” said Senator Baldwin. “The bipartisan Respect for Marriage Act will enshrine and protect marriage equality and make sure legal, same-sex and interracial marriages are recognized. I take great pride in being a part of this bipartisan effort to protect the progress we have made on marriage equality, because we cannot allow this freedom and right to be denied.”

“In overturning Roe v. Wade, the conservative Supreme Court majority indicated it is willing to attack other constitutional rights, including same-sex and interracial marriage,” said Senator Feinstein. “In fact, one justice specifically noted that the court’s Obergefell decision confirming same-sex marriage should be revisited. Our bill would repeal the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act and ensure that marriage equality remains the law of the land.”

“Maine voters legalized same-sex marriages in our state nearly a decade ago, and since Obergefell, all Americans have had the right to marry the person whom they love,” said Senator Collins. “During my time in the Senate, I have been proud to support legislation prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, from strengthening hate crime prevention laws, to repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ to ensuring workplace equality. This bill is another step to promote equality, prevent discrimination, and protect the rights of all Americans.”

The Respect for Marriage Act would:

  • Repeal DOMA. The Supreme Court effectively rendered DOMA inert with its landmark decisions in United States v. Windsor and Obergefell.  This unconstitutional and discriminatory law, however, still officially remains on the books.  The bill would repeal this statute once and for all.
  • Enshrine Marriage Equality for Federal Law Purposes. The bill requires, for federal law purposes, that an individual be considered married if the marriage was valid in the state where it was performed.  This gives same sex and interracial couples additional certainty that they will continue to enjoy equal treatment under federal law as all other married couples—as the Constitution requires.
  • Provide Additional Legal Protections. The bill prohibits any person acting under color of state law from denying full faith and credit to an out of state marriage based on the sex, race, ethnicity or national origin of the individuals in the marriage, provides the Attorney General with the authority to pursue enforcement actions, and creates a private right of action for any individual harmed by a violation of this provision.

In the House, the Respect for Marriage Act is co-led by Representatives Mark Pocan (D-WI), Sharice Davids (D-KS), Mondaire Jones (D-NY), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), Mark Takano (D-CA), Angie Craig (D-MN), Chris Pappas (D-NH), Ritchie Torres (D-NY), Joyce Beatty (D-OH), Raul Ruiz (D-CA), Judy Chu (D-CA), and Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY).

The Respect for Marriage Act is supported by leading national organizations including: ACLU, Center for American Progress, Equality Federation, Family Equality, Freedom for All Americans, GLAD, Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, National Black Justice Coalition, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Women’s Law Center and PFLAG.

An online version of this release is available here.

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