Sen. Feinstein backs bill to repeal federal statute limiting marriage
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, announced Tuesday a bill to repeal the federal law that defines marriage as a “legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife” and that allows states to reject legal same sex marriages from other states.
The Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, passed both the House and the Senate in 1996.
Feinstein said she is one of only 14 senators who voted against the legislation at the time. “I thought even then, this is unconstitutional and wrong. Well, today it’s unconstitutional, I believe, and wrong,” she said in a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington.
She said her bill would “strike the Defense of Marriage Act from law and would free the government to allow for the same type of benefits they allow for married couples to also be applied to same-sex couples…”
“Believe it or not, there are over 1,000 federal laws and protections that are afforded to married couples but are not afforded to legally married same-sex couples in any of the states that have approved same-sex marriage,” she said.
Kathleen Cumiskey and Robin Garber were among three same-sex couples who joined Feinstein at the news conference. They said they traveled from New York’s Staten Island with a stack of papers they take with them nearly everywhere.
The couple was married in Toronto, Canada, in 2006 and their home state of New York legally recognized their marriage in 2008. But when they travel across state lines, they said, they have to bring with them paperwork in case of an emergency.
“We traveled from New York City last night and had to bring with us our box of documents,” Garber said holding up a marbled-cover box. “Wherever we go we need to be able to prove the legal documentation of our relationship. We need to be able to prove that we are legally responsible for each other, that we have the legal right to make decisions for each other.”
She added, “We find it really incredible that we can travel halfway around the world — we can go to Spain, we can go to Ireland, we can go to South Africa — and have our marriage recognized and respected, but when we travel 15 miles from our own front door that is not the case and we need our box of documents.”
Overdue. Like so much civil rights law in the land – it’s time to dump the hatred and fear and support equal opportunities for all citizens.
Should be a cutting edge showdown between the Right side of the issue from homophobes all the way to the simply intellectually lazy opposing change – versus official Democrats including the president who has said he will endorse the “Respect for Marriage” Act, progressives and conservatives with a commitment to the Bill of Rights.