Defense of Marriage Act

| Fri Aug. 9, 1996 3:00 AM EDT

What It Does: Defines "marriage" as a relationship between one man and one woman, and a "spouse" as a husband or wife of the opposite sex. Allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in another state, seen by some as a preemptive strike against the expected legalization of gay marriage in Hawaii.

Pro and Con: Proponents of DOMA argue that most Americans do not support same-sex marriages, which threaten traditional values and the already crumbling family structure. Opponents counter that marriage is a civil right--with numerous accompanying legal rights--that should be available to both gays and straights.

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Status: On July 12, 1996, the House passed the Defense of Marriage Act (H.R. 3396) with a 342 to 67 vote. The Senate will consider the bill (S. 1740) on September 5, 1996. President Clinton has promised to sign it.

What You Can Do: Let Clinton know whether you think he should veto or sign the bill. E-mail him yourself or use our handy form:


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President Bill Clinton
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