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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Lambda Legal Calls for Swift Passage of Respect for Marriage Act

"It's long past time for DOMA to go."

(New York, September 15, 2009) — Today at a Capitol Hill press conference announcing the introduction of a bill to repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Lambda Legal's Executive Director Kevin Cathcart and a Lambda Legal plaintiff couple from the Iowa marriage equality victory lawsuit called for the bill's passage.

"It is long past time for DOMA to go," said Kevin Cathcart, Executive Director of Lambda Legal. "When DOMA passed in 1996 it was a gratuitous slap in the face. But now, 13 years later, there are thousands of married same-sex couples who are hurt by this law. We've come a long way in 13 years and the federal government shouldn't be in the business of deciding that some married couples are worthy of federal respect and others are not. Married same-sex couples pay federal taxes just like everyone else and have a right to the same respect, important benefits and protections as everyone else."

The Respect for Marriage Act is sponsored by Congressman Jerrold Nadler of New York, Chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers, Jr. of Michigan and two openly gay members of Congress, Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Congressman Jared Polis of Colorado.

"We applaud the bill's sponsors for their leadership and call on all fair-minded congressional members to support this bill," Cathcart added.

Jen and Dawn BarbouRoske, a married same-sex couple from Iowa City, Iowa, and their two daughters McKinley, 11 and Breanna, 7, were plaintiffs in Lambda Legal's lawsuit which resulted in the Iowa marriage victory this spring. The family spoke at the press conference about why federal respect of their marriage is important to them.

"We've been together for nearly 20 years and when we got married this summer, we got the same license and undertook the same responsibilities as every other married couple in our state," said Jen BarbouRoske. "Why is the federal government labeling our marriage as undeserving of the same federal respect and protections that our married neighbors have? When Dawn and I do our federal tax return next year, our own government will tell us to lie and say we’re not married. But we are, and the government that takes the same taxes and Social Security deductions from our paychecks as from everyone else’s, should give us the same legal rights, too."

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