Bill Would Repeal Federal Marriage Law
Special Report - September 18, 2009
A measure that would repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. H.R. 3567-“Respect for Marriage Act of 2009” was introduced by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) on September 15 with 91 cosponsors. The bill would repeal the 13-year old federal law, which defines marriage for federal purposes as between one man and one woman, and protects states from being forced to recognize same-sex “marriages” performed in other states. The majority of states (37), including North Carolina, have enacted DOMAs to the same effect.
H.R. 3567 would repeal the federal DOMA and amend it with the following language: “For the purposes of any Federal law in which marital status is a factor, an individual shall be considered married if that individual's marriage is valid in the State where the marriage was entered into or, in the case of a marriage entered into outside any State, if the marriage is valid in the place where entered into and the marriage could have been entered into in a State.”
“The full repeal of DOMA is long overdue,” said Rep. Nadler at a September 15 press conference announcing the introduction of his bill. “When DOMA was passed in 1996, its full harm may not have been apparent to all Members of Congress because same-sex couples were not yet able to marry....But, with a President who is committed to repealing DOMA and a broad, diverse coalition of Americans on our side, we now have a real opportunity to remove from the books this obnoxious and ugly law.” Although the White House has not yet issued a statement regarding H.R. 3567, President Obama has said that he supports the repeal of the federal DOMA. A press release issued by Rep. Nadler’s office cites a recent quote from President Obama, where the president pledged to “stand by my long-standing commitment to work with Congress to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act.”
According to the Alliance Defense Fund, the repeal of the federal DOMA, “opens the door for litigation that would seek to force states to recognize ‘marriages’ between members of the same sex.”
“If the federal DOMA is repealed, even states with their own DOMAs, like North Carolina, could potentially be forced to recognize the same sex ‘marriages’ of states where it is legal,” warned Bill Brooks, president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council. “It would leave North Carolina particularly vulnerable to forced recognition of same-sex ‘marriage’ by activist courts because we do not have a Marriage Protection Amendment in our State Constitution.”
To date, 30 states have adopted Marriage Protection Amendments, amending their state constitutions to define marriage as only between a man and woman. Legislation that would give North Carolinians the opportunity to vote on a Marriage Protection Amendment has been introduced in the General Assembly for six years in a row, including in 2009, but the leadership has never allowed the bills to make it onto the floor of either chamber for an up or down vote.
Brooks added, “The introduction of H.R. 3567 to repeal the federal DOMA should serve as an urgent reminder to our national and state legislative leaders as to why the United States and North Carolina need a Marriage Protection Amendment.”
Copyright © 2009. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.