The past year truly has been a landmark year in the fight for equality for LGBT Americans. Not only did Congress finally repeal the corrosive and immoral "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy, but we won some important battles in the fight to allow every loving couple the opportunity to marry.
First, New Hampshire and Washington, DC began issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples; then a federal court found provisions of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (or DOMA) unconstitutional; and now, just last week, President Obama and the Justice Department announced that they would no longer defend Section 3 of DOMA in court.
Prior to this announcement, I was working with colleagues and advocates to encourage this move and I applaud the President's decision, but the fact is that DOMA will continue to be enforced until Congress repeals it legislatively. Achieving marriage equality is a top priority of mine and I believe that repeal of DOMA is a crucial step toward that goal.
We must repeal this discriminatory law. There is no reason same-sex couples should be denied the same rights that my husband and I and so many other straight Americans enjoy. For me it comes down to the very simple principles that every American should be able to marry the person they love, and that discrimination against LGBT Americans is unconstitutional and wrong.
The law as it currently stands denies federal benefits to thousands of legally married couples -- more than 1,100 federal rights and privileges enjoyed by straight couples, including hospital visitation, inheritance and some health care benefits. It discourages states from recognizing these legal marriages and it denies millions more Americans the right to marry the person they love.
This is wrong.
Senator Feinstein has announced she will introduce repeal legislation in the US Senate and Rep. Nadler will do the same in the House. I look forward to supporting their efforts and helping lead the way in this battle. Despite the fact that Republicans control the House, it's crucial that we begin the debate now.
So please join me at repealDOMA.com. And if you've been affected by DOMA, please share your story with us. As with DADT, personalizing this fight will be the key to winning it.
Thanks for your ongoing support in our battle for LGBT equality.
Follow Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Twitter: www.twitter.com/SenGillibrand