The Supreme Court recently struck down a key part of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that defined marriage under federal law as “only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.” Thanks to the Court’s ruling, legally married same-sex couples will now be eligible for all of the federal benefits and protections that every other married couple enjoys. Yet the Court did NOT rule on another part of DOMA that says that states are not required to recognize same sex marriages from other states, even though they are required to recognize heterosexual marriages from other states.
The rights of legally married same-sex couples who reside outside one of the 13 states that recognize their marriages remain unclear. This is why Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) have reintroduced the Respect for Marriage Act (H.R. 2523/ S. 1236).
The Respect for Marriage Act would entirely repeal DOMA, providing married same-sex couples with the full range of federal benefits and protections that the law already provides to married opposite-sex couples regardless of where they live. This provides critically important certainty for families, allowing couples to plan for a future of mutual obligation and support with confidence that their access to federal responsibilities and rights will not be taken away by a move to another state. At the same time, nothing in the Act obligates any person or religious organization to celebrate or license a marriage between two persons of the same sex.
Judaism teaches that all human beings are created b'tselem elohim – in the Divine image. Genesis 1:27 tells us that “God created humans in God’s own image, in the image of God, God created them: male and female, God created them.” The belief that the stamp of the divine is present in all humans is fundamental to Reform Judaism; we cannot tolerate discrimination against any person for any reason. In reflection of this belief, the Movement is committed to ensuring the civil marriage rights of gay and lesbian couples.
It’s time to end institutionalized discrimination based on sexual orientation in this country. Ask your Members of Congress to cosponsor and support the Respect for Marriage Act (H.R. 2523/S. 1236). You can send an e-mail by entering your Zip Code below. To call your Members of Congress, the Capital Switchboard can be reached at 202.224.3121.