Bennet, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Ensure Rights of All Married Couples

42 senators, 79 House members introduce bill to guarantee federal marriage rights

Washington, DC - Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet joined 41 other senators led by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to reintroduce the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill to repeal the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act. The bill would also ensure that all legally-married, same-sex couples are treated equally under federal law by clarifying current statutes.

Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) introduced the companion bill in the House of Representatives today. A total of 79 representatives are original cosponsors of the House bill.

"Over the past year, Colorado and many other states have witnessed historic steps toward full equality for all couples, regardless of their sexual orientation," Bennet said. "With the Supreme Court's ruling that parts of the Defense of Marriage Act are discriminatory and unfairly treated LGBT couples, Congress should ensure all married couples can enjoy the same rights and opportunities under the law that my wife and I enjoy."

In June 2014, one year after the Supreme Court's ruling in Windsor v. United States, the Justice Department issued a report concluding that without legislation, married same-sex couples will continue to be denied critical federal benefits.

Specifically, the report concluded the government could not issue Social Security or veterans' benefits to some married, same-sex couples because the agencies "are required by law to confer marriage-related benefits based on the law of the state in which the married couple reside or resided, preventing the extension of benefits to same-sex married couples" in certain states.

The Justice Department report stated that enactment of a bill like the Respect for Marriage Act would ensure that federal benefits are awarded equally and that the administration would "work closely with Congress to ensure that veterans and elderly and disabled Americans can obtain for themselves or their spouses the essential benefits they have earned no matter where they live."

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