By Mark Weiner
Central New York's congressional delegation today praised the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found the1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, depriving equal liberty that is protected by the Fifth Amendment.
Rep. Dan Maffei, D-DeWitt, who had signed a legal brief in support of those trying to overturn the law, said the court made the right decision.
"All Americans deserve equal protection under the law," Maffei said. "I was proud to sign the amicus brief in support of overturning this discriminatory, unconstitutional law. As Central York's representative in Congress, I will continue to do everything I can to respect, uphold, and protect the rights of Central New Yorkers and all Americans as guaranteed by our Constitution."
Central New York's other House member, U.S. Rep. Richard Hanna, R-Barneveld, also supported overturning the Defense of Marriage Act.
"Today is a historic day," Hanna said after the Supreme Court ruling. "I have maintained that it is right to extend equal protection under federal law to all couples who are legally married, without infringing upon religious freedom and beliefs. The federal government has a responsibility to ensure all legally married couples are treated equally under federal law."
Hanna was among only two Republicans in Congress to sign a legal brief supporting a separate Supreme Court case challenging California's Proposition 8. Hanna argued that gay people have a constitutional right to marry.
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said she was "overjoyed" with the ruling that strikes down the Defense of Marriage Act.
"Today is a historic day for our country on its long march towards upholding the fundamental values this country was founded upon of fairness, equality and justice," Gillibrand said in a statement. "I am overjoyed the Supreme Court has ruled to end the discrimination that had been enshrined into U.S. law."
She added, "Marriage is the true foundation for strong families. Every loving, committed couple deserves the basic human right to get married, start a family, and be treated equally under the law. No politician from this day forward should try to stand in the way of this fact."
Gillibrand said she will now work in Congress to pass the Respect for Marriage Act "and finally put the discriminatory DOMA policy into the dustbin of history where it belongs."
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., voted for DOMA when he was a House member in 1996. But he changed his position in the past five years, and now supports same-sex marriage.
"The march towards equality, which the Supreme Court interrupted yesterday (with a ruling on the Voting Rights Act) moved forward again today," Schumer said in a statement after the DOMA ruling.
"Same-sex marriage is supported by a majority of Americans, and to delay its advent any longer would be unfair to millions of LGBT couples and an affront to the American ideal," Schumer said. "The Supreme Court did the right thing here, and helps us understand that the march to equality in America is unstoppable."