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NOW Action Alert

Congress Must Repeal DOMA -- Contact Your Representative

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NOW is the time to pressure Congress for immediate passage of the Respect for Marriage Act (H.R. 3567), which would fully repeal the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). A federal district court judge recently ruled DOMA unconstitutional, and the case may well get to the Supreme Court -- but we want Congress to act now.

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On July 8, a federal district court judge in Boston ruled that the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is an unconstitutional violation of a state's ability to define marriage as well as a violation of the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal protection. DOMA, passed by a Republican-controlled Congress in 1996, defines marriage only as occurring between one man and one woman in all federal laws. It denies federal marriage benefits to same-sex couples who legally marry and allows individual states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions.

A longtime supporter of equal marriage, NOW opposed DOMA from the start. Friend and ally Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley filed one of the two cases involved in the recent decision. Thanks in part to Coakley's inspired strategy, Judge Joseph L. Tauro ruled that DOMA violated both states' rights and the Equal Protection Clause.

The Respect for Marriage Act (H.R. 3567), sponsored by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) with 112 co-sponsors, is currently pending in the House. If passed, this act would fully repeal DOMA. Rep. Nadler called the court's decision an "historic victory in the march toward marriage equality and a vindication of the core principle of equal protection under the law."

Currently five states (Conn., Iowa, Mass., N.H., Vt.) and the District of Columbia recognize same-sex marriage. We are making progress, but winning equal marriage in every state is only part of our goal. The federal government must also recognize same-sex marriages, otherwise these families will continue to be denied the more than 1,100 benefits, protections and responsibilities afforded to other married couples.

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