On the heels of a historic year for supporters of marriage equality, Democrats reintroduced legislation to repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). DOMA as you may remember from the Supreme Court case in the summer of 2013, is the federal law that allows states to refuse to legally recognize gay and lesbian couples married in other states. In today's blog your Pennsylvania LGBT rights lawyers discuss the act that is being re-introduced in Congress this session.
The Act, which is named the Respect of Marriage Act, is meant to entirely repeal DOMA. It does not, however, make same-sex marriage legal throughout the country. If the Act is able to pass through both the Senate and the House of Representatives, all same-sex couples that are legally married in a state that recognizes same sex marriage would be eligible for federal marriage benefits and protections, even if the state in which they are currently residing does not allow same-sex marriage.
In summary, what the Act would do is grant legally married same-sex couples throughout the United States the same federal benefits that heterosexual couples and same-sex couples living in states that recognize same-sex marriage have. It would not require states to pass any laws relating to marriage equality. The Act would simply address the federal benefits, it would not impose anything upon the individual states.
Right now it does not seem likely that the Act will be able to pass as it only has the support of one Republican member of Congress, Florida's Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, but if it does manage to gain support it would be another tremendous victory for supporters of marriage equality.
For the latest updates in the march towards marriage equality throughout the United States, be sure to regularly check back with our Pennsylvania Family Lawyers blog. Our team of Pennsylvania LGBT Rights lawyers follow the latest updates in family law and will be happy to provide you with legal guidance and advice regarding your specific situation. To set up a consultation with one of our lawyers, contact us today.