This week, Senator Jeff Bingaman added his name to the list of cosponsors of S. 598, the Respect for Marriage Act. The Respect for Marriage Act would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act – or, as the bill might have been more accurately called, the Defensive Marriage Act. The Defense of Marriage Act creates a bizarre system of state-controlled marriage laws in which a couple who is married in one state can suddenly become unmarried, just by taking a trip into another state within the USA.
Why would anyone support a law that makes it possible for a married couple to become alternatively unmarried and then married, and then unmarried again as they travel across the United States? The answer is that this awkward arrangement was created in order to stop many people from getting married. Politicians who believe that it’s government’s business to decide who Americans can choose to marry passed the Defense of Marriage Act in order to interfere with the creation of marriage equality for heterosexual and homosexual couples alike, as the Constitution’s equal protection clause requires. They would rather see marriage law divided than see couples that they personally don’t approve of get married.
The Respect for Marriage Act seeks to reunite marriage law across the United States, so that a couple that gets married in New York can know that they’ll remain married while they take a trip down to Florida. The legislation would provide for the recognition of a couple’s marriage across the United States, so long as that marriage is legally recognized somewhere in the United States.
No Republican senators yet support the Respect for Marriage Act. One independent senator, Bernard Sanders, and 27 Democrats have signed their names in support of the legislation. 24 Democrats have declined to support the Respect for Marriage Act.
Democrats Who Support S. 598, The Bill To Recognize Marriages Equally Across The United States
Dianne Feinstein (CA), Daniel Akaka (HI), Michael Bennet (CO), Jeff Bingaman (NM), Richard Blumenthal (CT), Barbara Boxer (CA), Sherrod Brown (OH), Maria Cantwell (WA), Benjamin Cardin (MD), Chris Coons (DE), Richard Durbin (IL), Al Franken (MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Tom Harkin (IA), Daniel Inouye (HI), John Kerry (MA), Herb Kohl (WI), Frank Lautenberg (NJ), Patrick Leahy (VT), Jeff Merkley (OR), Patty Murray (WA), Charles Schumer (NY), Jeanne Shaheen (NH), Mark Udall (CO), Tom Udall (NM), Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), Ron Wyden (OR)
Democrats Who Do NOT Support S. 598, The Bill To Recognize Marriages Equally Across The United States
Max Baucus (MT), Mark Begich (AK), Tom Carper (DE), Robert Casey (PA), Kent Conrad (ND), Kay Hagan (NC), Tim Johnson (SD), Amy Klobuchar (MN), Mary Landrieu (LA), Carl Levin (MI), Joe Manchin (WV), Claire McCaskill (MO), Robert Menendez (NJ), Barbara Mikulski (MD), Ben Nelson (NE), Bill Nelson (FL), Mark Pryor (AK), Jack Reed (OR), Harry Reid (NV), John Rockefeller (WV), Debbie Stabenow (MI), Jon Tester (MT), Mark Warner (VA), Jim Webb (VA),
The text of the Respect for Marriage Act is as follows:
“To repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and ensure respect for State regulation of marriage.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the `Respect for Marriage Act of 2011′.
SEC. 2. REPEAL OF SECTION ADDED TO TITLE 28, UNITED STATES CODE, BY SECTION 2 OF THE DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE ACT.
Section 1738C of title 28, United States Code, is repealed, and the table of sections at the beginning of chapter 115 of title 28, United States Code, is amended by striking the item relating to that section.
SEC. 3. MARRIAGE RECOGNITION.
Section 7 of title 1, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:
`Sec. 7. Marriage
`(a) 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.
`(b) In this section, the term `State’ means a State, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or any other territory or possession of the United States.’.”