Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) declared his support today for the Respect for Marriage Act (RMA, S.598), a bill that would repeal the so-called federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Senator Menendez is the 32nd U.S. Senator so far to co-sponsor the RMA and joins a growing list of senators — currently totaling 12 — who originally voted for DOMA in 1996 as a Senator or Representative.
Since my vote in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act 15 years ago, like tens of millions of Americans, I have reflected deeply and frequently about this issue. During this time, I have engaged in discussions about the issue of marriage equality with friends, family members, colleagues and of course, the people I serve in New Jersey. I have heard and listened to many different views.
But for me, this comes down to an issue of fundamental fairness. For me, this comes down to the principles I learned as the child of immigrants and that I cherish as an American: that we believe in equality for all people under the law.
So today, I am announcing my support for the Respect for Marriage Act, which repeals DOMA and ensures that all lawfully married couples — including same-sex couples — receive the benefits of marriage under federal law.
Read the rest of Sen. Menendez’s statement here.
According to Freedom to Marry, “there are a record number of supporters in both the House, where the bill has 134 sponsors, and in the Senate, now with 32 sponsors, including every Democratic member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which voted in November to advance the Respect for Marriage Act to the full Senate.”
In addition to Sen. Robert Menendez (NJ), the list of current US Senators who voted for DOMA in 1996 but are now co-sponsoring the Respect for Marriage Act includes Sen. Jeff Bingaman (NM), Sen. Benjamin Cardin (MD), Sen. Richard Durbin (IL), Sen. Tom Harkin (IA), Sen. Herb Kohl (WI), Sen. Frank Lautenberg (NJ), Sen. Patrick Leahy (VT), Sen. Carl Levin (MI), Sen. Barbara Mikulski (MD), Sen. Patty Murray (WA) and Sen. Charles Schumer (NY). [Laurel’s Note: I originally and erroneously included Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado in this list. Michael Bennet was not in Congress in 1996. I regret the error.]