Tags: gay | marriage | doma

Could RFMA Replace DOMA?

Saturday, 30 Mar 2013 10:32 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

Lobbyists are pushing to revive the Respect for Marriage Act – a measure to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act – in case the Supreme Court upholds federal legislation that bans same-sex marriages.

The new act hasn't been introduced again in either the House or Senate, but gay rights activists hoping to seek the bill say the amount of support for same-sex marriages means now is the time to bring the bill back, reports The Hill.

“Now that we are past this point, it absolutely makes sense for a re-introduction of the bill,” said Ian Thompson, a legislative representative for the American Civil Liberties Union. “Striking while the iron is hot makes sense because we could get out of the gate with a really good start.”

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The Supreme Court may issue a ruling leaving most of DOMA intact, gay rights advocates fear, as justices are only examining the section of the law as defining marriage as being between a man and a woman. That provision still denies federal benefits to married same-sex couples.

The lobbyists are arguing that passage of the Respect for Marriage Act is needed because the Supreme Court might issue a ruling that leaves much of DOMA intact.

Justices are only looking at Section 3 of the law, which defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. The provision denies federal benefits to married same-sex couples in nine states and the District of Columbia.

Lobbyists say they have thanked several senators who have said they favor same-sex marriage rights, and plan to ask the more than 200 lawmakers who signed an amicus brief against DOMA to back the new bill.

DOMA advocates, though, may have difficulty finding Republicans who agree with same-sex marriages. U.S. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio is the only Senate Republican to back gay marriage, but even he only supports a partial repeal of DOMA. An aide said Portman does not plan to co-sponsor the Respect for Marriage Act, and he still supports DOMA's section 2, which he believes protects states from having marriage definitions pushed on them.

Without a Republican senator to co-sponsor the repeal bill, advocates are short of the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster.

In addition, some gay rights advocates are not in favor of re-introducing the bill, especially before the court acts, saying that could influence the court's decision. They also note the legislation would have difficulty passing the Republican-controlled House.

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