FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, March 16, 2011
CONTACT: CONTACT: Ian Koski at 202-224-4216
Senator Coons joins colleagues in introducing repeal of Defense of Marriage Act
Cosponsors “Respect for Marriage Act” to give federal protections to same-sex couples
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) today reiterated his call for a repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, cosponsoring a bill introduced today by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and 17 other Democratic Senators. The Respect for Marriage Act would repeal the provision in the Defense of Marriage Act that forces the federal government to recognize only marriages between a man and a woman and instruct that the federal government shall no longer discriminate against same-sex couples.
“There are thousands of same-sex couples legally married in several states but whose marriages have been deemed invalid or unworthy by the federal government,” Senator Coons said. “The Respect for Marriage Act not only reverses this discriminatory provision but ensures LGBT families will be afforded the same federal rights as every other American. I am proud to be an original cosponsor of this bill.”
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 those same-sex couples legally married in those states in which it is permitted.
“There are too many young people growing up in Delaware and throughout the United States who think the world is against them because they are gay,” Senator Coons said. “Repealing DOMA is one way we can tell a whole generation of young Americans that they should not give up and that their country respects them enough to treat them as equal to every other American.”
“In the Declaration of Independence,” Senator Coons added, “our founders set down the principle that governments are established to protect our rights and liberties, foremost our equality under law. The Respect for Marriage Act does just that. It ensures that our government equally safeguards the rights of all Americans and of all the states.”
The Respect for Marriage act is also cosponsored by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), John Kerry (D-Mass.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Dan Inouye (D-Hawaii), and Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii).
Senator Coons, a longtime advocate for equal rights for the LGBT community, will be the keynote speaker at the Human Rights Campaign Philadelphia Region annual dinner on Friday, March 19.