On Thursday, U.S. Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) has signed on as a co-sponsor for a bill to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a ban of gay marriage that was signed into law in 1996 by President Bill Clinton.
Bennet joins 26 other senators that back the “Respect for Marriage Act” (S. 598) which would allow same-sex couples to receive the same federal marriage benefits that heterosexual couples already receive including joint federal income tax filing, Social Security spousal benefits and other traditional marriage benefits.
Bennet says in a press release statement:
The federal government should no longer pick and choose which legal marriages to recognize. Married same-sex couples deserve the same federal marriage benefits that my wife and I enjoy. No married couples should be denied these marriage benefits, and they should not have to worry that their spouses will be denied Social Security surviving spouse benefits or equal family health benefits.
Early in 2011, President Barack Obama criticized DOMA for being unconstitutional and said that the Justice Department should no longer defend the law in court. Shortly thereafter, Speaker of the House John Boehner announced that he was leading a group to defend DOMA with private funds, according to The Colorado Independent.
The Respect for Marriage Act would not force states that do not recognize same-sex marriages to do so, however legally married same-sex couples living in states that do not recognize their marriage would still receive federal marriage benefits, regardless.
Currently, same-sex marriage is legal in five states (Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa and New Hampshire) and Washington D.C. all of which also provide equal state benefits to all legally married couples.
Read the Respect for Marriage Act in its entirety here.