Gay Rights Activists Set Sights on Winning Benefits in All 50 States

Thursday, 27 Jun 2013 01:29 PM

By Melanie Batley

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Gay rights lobbyists intend to push legislation guaranteeing that same-sex married couples will be eligible for federal benefits no matter where they live and regardless of a state's position on the legality of gay unions.

Although the Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, paving the way for gay married couples to receive federal benefits, activists are concerned the ruling didn't specify whether married couples in states that don't permit or recognize gay marriage will be eligible, The Hill reported.

"What the Supreme Court basically did this morning was put a stake in the heart of DOMA, but it didn't kill DOMA yet," Jo Deutsch, federal director for Freedom to Marry, told The Hill Wednesday.

Hours after the ruling, The Respect for Marriage Act was introduced in the Senate by Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California and in the House by New York Democrat Jerrold Nadler. It would fully repeal DOMA and specify that "state of ceremony" supersedes "state of residence" for everything from entitlement benefits to tax breaks.


"[The bill] takes DOMA off the books, which we want," Fred Sainz, vice president of communications for Human Rights Campaign, told The Hill. He added that it would ensure gay married couples "will be able to get all federal rights and benefits associated with marriage that are provided by the federal government."

Many Republican lawmakers and commentators have denounced the DOMA ruling. Some conservative and religious groups said they will push for a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage nationwide, and Kansas GOP Rep. Tim Huelskamp pledged Wednesday to introduce a constitutional amendment to restore DOMA.



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