ADL Welcomes Senate Hearings on Repeal of Discriminatory "Defense Of Marriage Act"

New York, NY, July 20, 2011 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today welcomed Senate hearings on legislation that would repeal the "Defense of Marriage Act," saying the existing law unfairly discriminates against same-sex couples.

"We are strongly committed to securing equal rights for the LGBT community and for same-sex marriages," said Deborah M. Lauter, ADL Civil Rights Director. "Current law, which mandates unequal status for same-sex couples, is not merely a denial of rights and benefits, it is a denial of the due process and equal protection guarantees of the Constitution."

The Senate Judiciary Committee is today convening the first hearing on "The Respect for Marriage Act." If the proposed bill passes, it would repeal DOMA, a discriminatory and unconstitutional law enacted in 1996.

In a letter to committee members, ADL urged support for the measure:

The denial of civil marriage to same-sex couples sends the unacceptable message that we live in a two-tiered society, where some have legal rights that are denied to others.

Our nation is best served by ensuring the constitutional right to civil marriage is granted, protected, and honored for all Americans.

There are more than 1,100 federal benefits and protections provided to married couples under federal law – including family and medical leave, Social Security spousal and survivors' benefits, tax and inheritance benefits, and hospital visitation rights – that are denied to same-sex couples by DOMA.