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20 December 2011

Praise: Diane Feinstein, Jerrold Nadler, and the Respect for Marriage Act

The effort to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) from 1996 has been slowly gaining momentum.  On 15 March 2011, California Senator Feinstein introduced the Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA) to do so.  At this time, she has thirty co-sponsors (twenty-nine Democrats and one Independent).
Respect for Marriage Act of 2011 - Amends the Defense of Marriage Act to repeal a provision that prohibited a state, territory, possession, or Indian tribe from being required to recognize any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other state, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a same sex marriage.
Amends the federal rules of construction added by such Act concerning the definitions of "marriage" and "spouse" to provide that, for 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. Removes the definition of "spouse" (currently, a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife).
The news this week is that New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez, who once voted for DOMA, is now supporting RFMA.  Sadly, it does not matter if this is voted on in the Senate as it is languishing in the House.

Since New York Representative Nadler introduced the RFMA in the House of Representatives, he gained 134 co-sponsors (133 Democrats and one Republican, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida).  It has been sent to the sub-committee on the Constitution where it is likely to stay until it is re-introduced in a future Congress.

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