Just hours after the Supreme Court's historic decision striking down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) joined Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and 39 of their colleagues in reintroducing the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the entirety of the Defense of Marriage Act and remove the remaining statutory obstacles to full implementation of the decision. Senator Coons was an original cosponsor of the bill when it was introduced in 2011.
"The Supreme Court took a historic step toward equality today for loving, committed couples across our country by striking down part of the Defense Marriage Act," Senator Coons said. "The decision means that more than one thousand federal benefits, rights and protections now need to be updated. Even with the Court's decision today, statutory and regulatory artifacts and ambiguity will prevent immediate equality for same-sex couples that are legally married. The Respect for Marriage Act will finish the job begun by the Court and end federal discrimination against same-sex couples once and for all."
The Respect for Marriage Act would create a uniform standard that guarantees legally married same-sex couples access to federal benefits, regardless of where they reside. This clarification is critical for veterans, and the proper administration of state-federal benefits such as Medicaid, unemployment insurance, and food stamps. The Respect for Marriage Act does not legalize same-sex marriage beyond the states in which it is already legal. It respects the right of states to set their own marriage laws but ends federal discrimination against same-sex couples legally married in states in which it is permitted.
The Respect for Marriage Act is also cosponsored by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Robert Casey (D-Penn.), William "Mo" Cowan (D-Mass.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Angus King (I-Maine), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).