Federal Defense of Marriage Act Called Into Question Concerning Civil Rights for Gays

Jul 29, 2011 - LegalZoom News Sources
Marriage act being disputed

While New York's recent passing of state law to allow same-sex marriages has provided a small victory for equal rights, federal laws are still active that limit the amount of rights available to homosexuals in today's society.

One of those laws, the Defense of Marriage Act, was enacted in 1996 to give each state the ability to determine how they govern same-sex marriages. While that may not seem like an affront to civil rights on the surface, the law does allow some states to deny gay couples the right afforded them in other states.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Rep. John Lewis of Georgia testified at a recent hearing in support of repealing DOMA.

“My entire childhood, I followed signs that said, ‘white restrooms, colored restrooms, white water fountains, colored water fountains,’” Lewis said. “We look back on that time now in disbelief, and one day we will look back on this period with that same sense of disbelief. … All across this nation, same-sex couples are denied the very rights that you and I enjoy.”