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March 25, 2011

DOMA repeal proposed

A third poll shows a majority supports marriage equality

Washington, D.C.--Bills to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act were introduced in the House and Senate on March 16.

Known as the Respect for Marriage Act, the repeal was put forward in the House of Representatives by Reps. Jerry Nadler, John Conyers, Barney Frank, Tammy Baldwin, Jared Polis and David Cicilline. Polis, Cicilline, Baldwin and Frank are the four out House members.

The House bill has over 100 co-sponsors.

For the first time, repeal legislation was also put forward in the Senate, presented by Dianne Feinstein, Patrick Leahy and Kirstin Gillibrand.

Two days after the legislation was introduced, another poll indicated growing support for same-sex marriage. An ABC poll released on March 18 showed that 53 percent of Americans think same-sex marriage should be legal, while 44 percent think it should be illegal. The telephone poll was conducted from March 10 to 13 using a national random sample of 1,005 people. Even with the margin of error of 3.5 percent, support outweighs opposition.

Another poll, a Pew Research survey in February, found the sides almost equal, with 45 percent supporting same-sex marriage and 46 percent opposed.

A third poll this month, commissioned by the Human Rights Campaign found 51 percent of voters oppose DOMA and only 34 percent support the 1996 legislation.

President Barack Obama’s administration announced on February 23 that it would no longer defend DOMA in court, finding that the third section is unconstitutional. Obama, who studied the Constitution at Harvard, was backed up by Attorney General Eric Holder.

Section 3 bars the federal government from recognizing any same-sex marriage for any purpose, including taxes, Social Security, federal employee benefits or immigration, no matter if the marriage is legal in the couple’s home state. That is the section that most lawsuits against DOMA hinge on, and the one that Obama and Holder believe violates the Constitution.

Section 2 says that states can refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

An immigration judge in Manhattan on March 22 concurred with attorneys’ arguments that the Justice Department stance allows an Argentine woman to stay in the country with her wife, marking the first time a same-sex marriage has been used successfully in an immigration case.

The deportation case against Monica Alcota was adjourned until December, with the support of the government’s attorney. Judge Terry A. Bain gave his approval for Alcota and her wife, Cristina Ojeda, to go ahead with using the form for spouses of United States citizens to petition to stay in the country. Alcota came to the United States ten years ago.

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