Below is a press release sent to Bensonhurst Bean last Friday by Rep. Jerrold Nadler’s office:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, in a history-making moment, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) announced that the Respect for Marriage Act – his legislation to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) – is now officially a bipartisan effort to end discrimination against LBGT Americans. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), a prominent defender of human rights and equality, will become the 125th cosponsor of the bill.
“I voted against the constitutional amendment defining marriage so I’m pleased to co-sponsor the repeal of DOMA and work with my colleagues on marriage equality,” said Ros-Lehtinen.
“It is with great joy that I welcome my friend and colleague, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, as the 125th cosponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act,” said Nadler. “Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen has long been a tremendous ally in the world’s struggles for freedom and against oppression and discrimination. She is widely recognized as a champion of human rights and human dignity. And her support reminds us that the march to repeal the discriminatory DOMA is not a partisan issue. Just as New York showed the nation this summer in its bipartisan embrace of marriage equality, the drive to end DOMA is – and must be – a collective, nonpartisan effort that unites Americans behind a simple push for equality. Our coalition grows stronger and larger every day.”
Nadler introduced the Respect for Marriage Act in March, along with Reps. Barney Frank (D-MA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jared Polis (D-CO), David Cicilline (D-RI), and John Conyers (D-MI), as well as the Democratic Leadership of the House. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) also introduced a companion bill in the Senate. In July, President Obama endorsed the legislation and the Senate Judiciary Committee held the first ever legislative hearing on the bill.
The legislation would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a 1996 law that discriminates against lawfully married gay and lesbian couples. The 15-year-old DOMA singles out legally married gay and lesbian couples for discriminatory treatment under federal law, selectively denying them critical federal responsibilities and rights, including programs like Social Security that are intended to ensure the stability and security of American families.
The Respect for Marriage Act represents the consensus approach endorsed by the nation’s leading LGBT and civil rights stakeholders and legislators, and would ensure that valid marriages are respected under federal law, providing couples with much-needed certainty that they will have the same access to federal responsibilities and rights as all other married couples.
Supporters of DOMA argued in 1996 that the law is necessary to promote family structures that are best for children, but every credible medical, social science and child welfare organization has concluded that gay and lesbian couples are equal parents. Married gay and lesbian couples pay taxes, serve their communities and raise children like other couples. Their contributions and needs are no different from anyone else’s. The Respect for Marriage Act would ensure that couples who assume the serious legal duties of marriage are treated fairly under federal law.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler represents New York’s 8th Congressional District, which includes Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea, SoHo, Greenwich Village, TriBeCa, the Financial District and Battery Park City. In Brooklyn, the 8th District includes parts of Borough Park, Red Hook, Sunset Park, Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, Coney Island, Brighton Beach, Gravesend, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach and Seagate.