Feinstein introduces Respect for Marriage Act

While much of the Congress was focused on the debt ceiling and deficits Wednesday, California Senator Dianne Feinstein was pushing to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act Congress passed 15 years ago.

This is the law that prevents gay and lesbian couples from enjoying the same rights and legal protections as straight couples.

Feinstein introduced what's called the Respect for Marriage Act, saying tens of thousands of same-sex couples, including more than 18,000 in California, are living their lives like all married people, sharing finances, raising kids and caring for each other.

But the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, denies them equal protections.

“It would strike DOMA in its entirety. It is the same as the House bill that was introduced this morning. It would ensure that the protections of our federal government, protections afforded by the government, are finally afforded to all,” Senator Dianne Feinstein said.

This DOMA law has come under a more severe attack since New York passed its same-sex marriage law which also recognizes gay marriages from other states.

It is welcome news to gay communities across the country, including San Diego.

“We think this is about having loving, committed couples, having the relationships respected, and their families protected because in the end that's what we want for all of our families,” Denise Serrano said.

President Obama has voiced support for civil unions in the past but stopped short of supporting same-sex marriage.

He said his views were evolving, and yesterday he endorsed the repeal of DOMA.

“He has long opposed it as unnecessary and unfair,” said Press Secretary Jay Carney.

The President also said he would not have the justice department defend DOMA in court, an open invitation to activists to challenge its constitutionality.

Feinstein, who is running for re-election, will push on.

“Right now because of DOMA these couples cannot take advantage of federal protections available to every other married couple in this country,” Sen. Feinstein said.

But, Feinstein and her 18 co-sponsors face an uphill battle. Not a single Republican has signed on as a co-sponsor.

DOMA was passed by Congress 15 years ago with large majorities in both houses, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton.

Categories: KUSI