Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) today applauded President Obama for announcing his support of the Respect for Marriage Act, legislation to provide married same-sex couples the same federal benefits as married heterosexual couples.
Kerry, who voted against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996, was an original co-sponsor of the legislation to repeal key provisions of DOMA.
"Today's announcement from the White House is a historic signal that momentum is growing to end the era of DOMA," said Sen. Kerry. "Last year we finally repealed Don't Ask, Don't Tell, ending an era that one day will seem as antiquated as the days before President Truman desegregated the military. When we pass the Respect for Marriage Act, so too will the era of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act seem anachronistic in a country where we don't believe there should be any second class citizens.
"It is still difficult to believe that DOMA passed the Senate 85 to 14 in 1996. I'm proud that I voted against it then, and determined now to end the discrimination it enshrined in our laws. The Respect for Marriage Act provides long-awaited federal protection and benefits to married gay and lesbian couples. It would end DOMA's tragic discrimination that for three years left a married Massachusetts couple separated by the immigration system. It took my intervention to reunite them; thousands just like them are still waiting for passage of the Respect for Marriage Act to provide them the basic rights they deserve. Today, President Obama has made it clear his Administration will continue to lead as no Administration has done before in the effort to end discrimination against gay Americans. This is very significant news."