This week, Democrats kicked off the new session of Congress by reintroducing the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill that would destroy what’s left of DOMA.
When the Supreme Court made its landmark decision rejecting DOMA last year, it only struck down the portion barring federal recognition of same-sex marriages. As it stands, the 14 states that still ban marriage equality are not required to recognize legal same-sex marriages that have taken place elsewhere.
If the Respect for Marriage Act is passed, it will repeal DOMA in its entirety.
If it were to become law, all legally married same-sex couples would have access to federal marriage benefits and protections, even if they moved to states that haven’t legalized gay marriage. It wouldn’t require states to pass marriage equality laws; it would only require that legally married same-sex couples living in those states receive the same federal benefits as other married couples.
The measure isn’t likely to go anywhere. It only has one GOP cosponsor, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.), in a Congress led entirely by Republicans. Despite the fact that it’s been introduced in every Congress since 2009, the only action it has ever seen was in November 2011, when the Senate Judiciary Committee passed it.
But Democrats are making it clear by reintroducing the bill on day one that LGBT rights are a party priority and something they want to champion ahead of the 2016 presidential election. This year’s bill has 42 cosponsors in the Senate and 79 in the House. It also picked up a notable new cosponsor: Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
There are so many measures in place that block same-sex couples from accessing the rights that other married couples have. As much progress as we’ve made, there is still so much left to do. This bill wouldn’t legalize marriage equality nationwide, but it would make a huge difference for those couples living in states that aren’t ready to accept them. Let’s go.