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A year later, proposed DOMA repeal bill keeps gaining new co-sponsors

WASHINGTON – Reps. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Hansen Clarke (D-MI) and Steve Cohen (D-TN) became the latest members of Congress to join the growing number of supporters of the Respect for Marriage Act (HR 1116 and S 598), the bill that would repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Representing diverse regions of the country, they signed on just days before the one-year anniversary of the Respect for Marriage Act’s introduction, bringing the total number of cosponsors in the House and Senate respectively to 140 and 31, up from 108 and 18 on March 16, 2011.

“A year after introducing this historic legislation, our movement to repeal DOMA and bring federal law into the 21st century has made unprecedented strides,” said Congressman Jerry Nadler, House sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act.

“We have seen the Senate introduce its counterpart bill, hold the first ever hearing on the legislation, and pass it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. President Obama has now endorsed our bill, the federal courts are hearing major cases challenging DOMA, and two federal courts already have declared it unconstitutional. Meanwhile, eight states and the District of Columbia have embraced marriage equality. Every day, we are closer to sending this shameful law into the history books and ensuring that all married couples have the support and respect from their government that their families deserve.”

Since the introduction of the Respect for Marriage Act, which has bipartisan support in the House of Representatives, Freedom to Marry along with co-chair organization the Human Rights Campaign has launched the Respect for Marriage Coalition, bringing together 62 diverse organizations – from labor unions to religious organizations – to work on passage of the Respect for Marriage Act and repeal of DOMA.

Additionally four states have passed freedom to marry bills (New York, Washington, Maryland and New Jersey – though the latter bill was vetoed by Republican Gov. Chris Christie with a vote to override still to come), and the number of Americans living in a state where gay couples can share in the freedom to marry has more than doubled.

An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released this month shows that nationwide support for the freedom to marry continues to surge, including significant increases among African-Americans, Independents, Republicans, Southerners and blue-collar workers. The poll confirms that the freedom to marry is already solidly supported by Democratic, Hispanic and Catholic voters, and that in every region of the country, including the South, support for the freedom to marry is either equal to or greater than opposition.

“One year after the introduction of the Respect for Marriage Act, we have seen enormous momentum for ending the ‘gay exception’ created by DOMA, which treats America’s legally married same-sex couples – including servicemembers risking their lives for our safety – as strangers under federal law,” said Jo Ellen Deutsch, federal director for Freedom to Marry.

“Representatives Bonamici, Clarke, and Cohen are joining with their House and Senate colleagues to end government discrimination against loving and committed gay and lesbian couples. As we work to win more freedom to marry victories in states across the country, Freedom to Marry will also keep making the case on the Hill to overturn DOMA and ensure that lawful marriages celebrated in the states are once again respected by the federal government.”

Additionally, 22 Democratic Senators, four House members including Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, two state attorneys general, more than half a dozen co-chairs of President Obama’s re-election campaign, the chair of this year’s national Democratic Convention, and other prominent Democratic officials have all publicly endorsed adding a freedom to marry plank to the 2012 Party Platform. Freedom to Marry is urging other Americans to join them on its Democrats: Say I Do online petition, launched in February.

About Freedom to Marry

Freedom to Marry is the campaign to win marriage nationwide. We are pursuing our Roadmap to Victory by working to win the freedom to marry in more states, grow the national majority for marriage, and end federal marriage discrimination. We partner with individuals and organizations across the country to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage and the protections, responsibilities, and commitment that marriage brings.