WASHINGTON– U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) released the following statement after becoming an original cosponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act. The legislation, introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), would entirely repeal the inequitable Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and ensure that all legally married, same-sex couples are treated equally under federal law. Senator Cardin also was a cosponsor of similar legislation in the 113th and 112th Congresses.
“By striking down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act the Supreme Court affirmed the core principle on which our nation was founded: all persons must be treated equally under the law. Despite this victory for civil rights, large portions of the law still allow for discrimination against legally married LGBT couples,” said Senator Cardin. “I believe that there is no place for discrimination in American society. Congress should pass the Respect for Marriage Act and ensure that the federal government is not complicit in blatant discrimination. America should be a beacon of human rights for nations around the world. That the United States still has statutorily discriminatory laws like DOMA on the books is simply unacceptable. Legally married gay and lesbian couples should be entitled to the same benefits as heterosexual couples. Congress should follow the lead of a majority of states, including Maryland, and companies that give full recognition and equality to same-sex couples.”
In June of 2013, the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act which defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman as husband and wife. Today, many legally married same-sex couples are being denied equal treatment by the federal government. There still exist loopholes that can disadvantage same-sex couples seeking to access certain Social Security and Veterans Benefits. The Respect for Marriage Act would address these and other statutory issues. It would also fully repeal Section 2 of DOMA which could allow a court judgment that (in some way) involves a same-sex marriage in one state to be invalidated by another state. The bill will not force states to issue marriage licenses, and it will not force any religious entity to perform or solemnize a same-sex marriage.