Federal lobbying push prompts two new Respect for Marriage Act co-sponsors

Last week, two additional members of the House of Representatives signed on as co-sponsors for the Respect for Marriage Act, the bill that would overturn the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits federal recognition of marriages between same-sex couples. Freedom to Marry's federal team and Servicemembers Legal Defense Network have been lobbying key members of Congress this month, and the new cosponsors - Texas Rep. Silvestre Reyes and Arizona Rep. Ron Barber - signed on in part thanks to their conversations with our lobbying team.

The lobbyists from both groups have been meeting conjunctively with members of the House and Senate on Capitol Hill to specifically discuss how DOMA hurts military families and why congressional support for the Respect for Marriage Act is important. The lobbying push is tied into our joint Freedom to Serve, Freedom to Marry campaign, which we launched in May to highlight the ways in which DOMA harms gay and lesbian service members and their families.

Because DOMA prohibits federal recognition of legal marriages between same-sex couples, the law effectively deprives same-sex couples of more than 1,100 protections and responsibilities that different-sex married couples receive. These include shared health insurance and medical coverage, valid military identification cards, joint residency on military bases, morale and welfare programs, and surviving spouse benefits. Our lobbyists have been working to explain why each of these protections is important and why it is unfair and wrong for legally married same-sex couples to be denied these vital protections. Our service members don't deserve to be discriminated against by the country they are fighting to protect.

Representatives Reyes and Barber bring the total number of sponsors of the bill to 153 in the House and 33 in the Senate. Freedom to Marry thanks these Congressmen for their support and commitment to fairness.

Through public engagement, advocacy and lobbying, Freedom to Marry's and SLDN's Freedom to Serve, Freedom to Marry campaign will continue its efforts to heighten support for the Respect for Marriage Act and work to end discrimination of gay and lesbian service members once and for all.