Defense of Marriage Act

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.

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:

Your e-mail address:

Your name:

Your mailing address:
[The White House discards e-mail messages with no street address]


President Bill Clinton
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC


[“Veto DOMA” or “Support DOMA”]

 Dear Mr. President: 

Enter your message to Clinton:



Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn’t fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation so we can keep on doing the type of journalism that 2018 demands.