It’s been a hell of a couple of days for advocates of LGBT rights around here. On Friday night, the New York State senate sent a passed marriage equality bill to the desk of Governor Andrew Cuomo, who signed it into law right away. And on Sunday, the streets of New York were filled with rainbow-clad revelers who had come from all over the world to participate in the annual Pride parade (and to get their hands on the hilarious freebies).
But, as the smoke – and the glitter and the confetti – clears, it’s time to start looking toward the next fight. And for many people, that fight is repealing the Defense of Marriage Act.
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)was signed into law in 1996 under President Clinton, and it prevents the federal government from recognizing same sex marriages granted by individual states. The result is that though a gay couple might be legally married in the state of, say, New fucking York (Woo! Still celebrating a little over here!), they are not eligible for many federal marriage benefits – hospital visitation and inheritance, for example – that straight couples get.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has taken up the cause of repealing DOMA. She writes:
The fact is that once our LGBT friends and family are legally able to marry here in New York, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) will prohibit them from enjoying over 1,000 federal rights and privileges that are afforded straight married couples.
That’s why earlier this year I joined Senator Feinstein and several of my Senate colleagues to co-sponsor the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill that will repeal the regressive and discriminatory DOMA.
It’s also why I’ve joined with Democracy For America to launch a national online campaign to rally support for repeal. For only once every legally married couple in the United States is treated equally under federal law can we fulfill the true meaning of marriage equality.
The Obama administration has already called DOMA unconstitutional, and earlier this year, the Justice Department declined to defend it.
Gillibrand is asking that anyone who has been impacted by DOMA – that would be every single American, really – go to the Repeal DOMA site to sign the petition and add their story. “It’s imperative that we begin to put faces and names to this discriminatory policy,” she writes. “Only then will we truly be able to change hearts and minds, both among my colleagues in Congress and around the country.”