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Democrats Take First Step Towards Federal Recognition of Same-Sex Marriage

November 11, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

For the first time ever, a congressional committee has voted to require the federal government and all states to recognize same-sex marriages. Yesterday, on a party-line vote, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the Respect for Marriage Act, which states that, "for the purposes of any Federal law in which marital status is a factor, an individual shall be considered married if that individual’s marriage is valid in the State where the marriage was entered into or, in the case of a marriage entered into outside any State, if the marriage is valid in the place where entered into and the marriage could have been entered into in a State.”

The bill would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which was signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1996, before any state allowed same-sex marriages. DOMA defined marriage, for federal purposes, as “between one man and one women,” and declared that states could not be forced to recognize marriages from from other states that do not comply with that definition. The law has a negative economic impact on same-sex married couples by denying them the ability to file their taxes jointly and take deductions that heterosexual couples are eligible for.

It’s unclear at this point whether the bill will be given a vote in the full Senate this session. Even if it does get a vote, it would almost certainly fall short of the 60 votes needed to break a Republican filibuster.

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  • nancym 11/11/2011 5:26pm

    Wow. With apologies to all my gay friends, married or unmarried, I have to say, gee, what an URGENT matter this is (NOT!) Since we all know this has a flame’s chance in hell of passing, it’s obvious it’s just a ploy to get votes from the gay community, or maybe they’re just tired of simply twiddling their thumbs there in those committees?

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  • mmitsuzono 11/13/2011 2:11am

    i think it’s totally pointless to have this symbolic votes. it might not be urgent to most people, but i assume it would be for gay people and their families and friends.

    women used to not have rights to property or divorce without husbands’ consent.
    People including abolitionists like Frederick Douglas said it was a good thing but we wouldn’t do anything about it because it was not urgent. it took 70 years and while all these years, domestic violence against women was much more common and accepted.

    interracial marriage was illegal in many states until 1960s. Today interracial couples are still very small in their numbers. but it has a huge social impact.

    gay marriage not only grant practical rights to gay couples but also signal to the society at large that gay people are not inferior to heterosexual people. It will reduce abuses against gay people greatly as it did for women.

  • mmitsuzono 11/13/2011 2:11am

    oops, i meant to write "i think it’s NOT totally pointless to have this symbolic vote. " :)

  • Jstrandberg 11/17/2011 8:52pm

    My taxes pay for these buffoons to be in office… This vote is not in the best interest of this country… Voting on budget cuts is…

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