National Legislation Pending
Updated 11 January 2014
- Nationwide #1 • On 16 March 2011, the proposed RFMA (Respect-for-Marriage Act) was introduced as House #1116 into the House of Representatives, and as Senate #598 into the Senate, but that bill died. On 26 June 2013, the bill was reintroduced as House #2523 with 161 sponsors/co-sponsors (57 more are needed), and as Senate #1236 with 41 sponsors/co-sponsors (19 more are needed). The RFMA would repeal the remaining part of the DOMA (Defense-of-Marriage Act), so that states could no longer ignore legal, same-gender marriages from other states, and it would create a uniform federal law for recognizing couples regardless of where they were married or where they now live. Lawmakers favoring it include 171 Representatives (169 Democrats, 2 Republicans) and 43 Senators (41 Democrats, 2 Republicans). Based on history, chance of enactment is 5-6%.
- Nationwide #2 • On 14 February 2013, House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA) and Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) re-introduced into Congress the Charlie Morgan MSET (Military Spouses Equal Treatment) Act of 2013 (Senate #373, House #683), which would expand the definition of “spouse” in federal laws (U.S. Code, Titles 10, 32, 37, 38) to guarantee over 70 benefits and ensure equal pay, recognition, and support for all LGB military personnel, veterans, and spouses. Service Members Legal Defense Network filed suit in October 2011 (McLaughlin v. Panetta) to accomplish the same result (see Lawsuits). On 24 July 2013, the U.S. Senate Veteran’s Affairs Committee approved the legislation. Lawmakers favoring it include 79 Representatives (79 Democrats) and 5 Senators (5 Democrats). Based on history, chance of enactment is 20%.
Nationwide #16 • On 2 May 2013, the ECDAFA (Every Child Deserves A Family Act) (Senate #1069, House #2028) was re-introduced, a law which would prohibit discrimination in adoption/foster-care based on parents’ marital status, sexual orientation, and/or gender identity, and/or child’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Lawmakers in favor include 12 Senators (11 Democrats, 1 Independent). The bill is supported by a wide variety of professional organizations in child welfare, medicine, psychology, public health, and civil rights. Over 104,000 children are awaiting adoption, but LGBT individuals and couples still face discrimination in over 30 states. Lawmakers favoring it include 12 Senators (11 Democrats, 1 Independent) and 80 Representatives (79 Democrats, 1 Independent). Based on history, chance of enactment is 1%.
- Nationwide #18 • On 14 April 2011, the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) was introduced (House #1537, Senate #821), after having been proposed in every Congress since 2000. The bill would allow the nation’s 646,464 same-gender couples to immigrate and obtain permanent resident status on the same basis as opposite-gender couples. On 27 September 2012, the Homeland Security Department officially began recognizing LGBT immigrants as having a family whenever they have a U.S. spouse or a long-term same-gender partner. That family relationship is a fundamental factor when the Department makes immigration decisions. On 5 February 2013, the Act was reintroduced (Senate #296). Lawmakers favoring it include 31 Senators (28 Democrats, 2 Independents, 1 Republican). Based on history, the chance of enactment is 6%.
Nationwide #20 • On 28 February 2013, U.S. Representative Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) introduced House #914, the MRFPA (Military Religious Freedom Protection Act), which would: (a) exempt military personnel from responsibility for any anti-LGBT actions, (b) allow chaplains to refuse service to LGBT armed forces personnel, and (c) prohibit same-gender ceremonies on military bases. Lawmakers favoring it include 17 Representatives (17 Republicans). Based on history, the chance of enactment is 0%.
- Nationwide #21 • On April 19 and 22, the U.S. Senate held hearings on an 844-page immigration bill, the BSEOIMA (Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act), (Senate #744), which still did not include LGBT binational couples. On 30 April, Republican Senator Marco Rubio said that if LGBT equality gets added, Republicans will kill the entire bill, but Democratic Senator Leahy dismissed Rubio’s threat and said he would add both amendments. On 4 May 2013, President Obama announced that LGBT immigration equality is “the right thing to do.” On 7 May 2013, U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced 2 committee amendments to the proposed comprehensive immigration reform law. They would: (1) let LGBT Americans sponsor foreign permanent partners for U.S. residency; and (2) treat lawfully married bi-national same-gender couples the same as mixed-gender couples. On 21 May 2013, Republican leaders forced the deletion of LGBT people from the immigration reform bill before the bill was even released from the Senate Judiciary Committee. On 27 June 2013, the Senate passed the bill, 68 to 32. Restoring fairness toward LGBT people is certainly impossible in the Republican-controlled House. Based on history, chance of enactment is 43%.
- Nationwide #22 • On 28 June 2013, U.S. Representative Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) introduced House Joint Resolution 51, a measure to ban same-gender civil marriage, civil union, and domestic partnership in both the U.S. Constitution and every state constitution. To succeed, the proposal requires approval from 289 Representatives, 66 Senators, and 38 states. A similar proposal failed in 2006, with only 236 of the required 289 Representative votes, and the 2013 proposal is expected to fail by an even wider margin: of 435 Representatives, 185 already oppose the amendment, leaving only 250 supporting it (39 too few); of 100 Senators, 54 already oppose it, leaving only 46 supporting it (20 too few). Despite its inability to pass, H. J. Res. 51 is heavily promoted by anti-equality groups as a fund-raising ploy. Among sponsors/co-sponsors, lawmakers favoring it include 58 supporters (57 Republicans, 1 Democrat). Based on history, chance of enactment is 0%.
- Nationwide #23 • On 25 July 2013, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the Jury Access Act (Senate #38), part of a major financial services appropriations bill, which prevents discrimination toward LGBT people based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity during the jury selection process. Lawmakers in favor include 4 Senators (3 Democrats, 1 Republican). Based on history, the chance of enactment is 1%.
- Nationwide #24 • On 2 August 2013, U.S. Representative Linda Sánchez (D-CA) introduced the Social Security Equality Act of 2013 (House #3050, which would provide spouse, survivor, and death benefits to same-gender couples who are not legally married but whose relationships are legally recognized in the state where they live (currently CA, DE, HI, IL, NV, NJ, OR, and RI). Lawmakers in favor include 115 Representatives (114 Democrats, 1 Republican). Based on history, the chance of enactment is 1%.
- Nationwide #27 • On 19 September 2013, U.S. Senators and Representatives introduced the DPBO (Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act of 2013), (Senate #1529, House #3135), which would expand federal civilian employee spouse benefits to include same-gender domestic partners, regardless of state of residence. Lawmakers in favor include 71 Representatives (69 Democrats, 2 Republicans) and 11 Senators (10 Democrats, 1 Republican). Based on history, the chance of enactment is 2-4%.
- Nationwide #29 • On 20 November 2013, U.S. Representative Tim Walz (D-MN) introduced the Protecting the Freedoms and Benefits for All Veterans Act (H.R. #3569), which would ensure that LGBT veterans and families are treated equally for Title 38 § 103(c) survivor benefits (death pension, life insurance, educational assistance, bereavement counselling, spouse benefits, flag honors, etc.). Lawmakers favoring it include 4 Representatives (2 Democrats, 2 Republicans). Based on history, the chance of enactment is 2%.
- Nationwide #30 • On 12 December 2013, U.S. Senator Mike Lee introduced the MRFA (Marriage and Religious Freedom Act (House #3133, Senate #1808), which would legalize discrimination against LGBT individuals, couples, and their children by governments, businesses, hospitals, and individuals in 5 ways: (1) allow federal workers refuse to serve same-gender couples; (2) allow federally-funded social service programs to refuse service to LGBT people overall; (3) allow employers to deny workers leave to care for ill same-gender spouses; (4) allow individuals to use religion as an excuse to break federal laws; and (5) allow federal funded organizations to discriminate against anyone who has had sexual relations outside of a mixed-gender marriage. Lawmakers favoring it include 15 Senators (14 Republicans, 1 Democrat) and 94 Representatives (92 Republicans, 2 Democrats). Based on history, the chance of enactment is 1%.
- Nationwide #31 • On 9 January 2014, U.S. Representative Randy Weber (R-TX) introduced the State Marriage Defense Act of 2014 (H.R. #3829), which would: (1) force the federal government to ignore the legal civil marriages of same-gender couples who reside in a state that ignores such marriages; and (2) always dissolve or restore the legal civil marriage of every same-gender couple whenever one or both spouses cross a state border, and the state of entry treats same-gender couples differently than the state of exit. Lawmakers favoring it include 28 Representatives (all Republicans, 11 from TX). Based on history, the chance of enactment is 4%.
- Nationwide #32 • On 12 February 2014, U.S. Senators Ted Cruz (R) and Mike Lee (R) introduced State Marriage Defense Act of 2014 (Senate #2024), which would ban federal recognition of any legally married couple who move to a state that does not recognize their marriage. Lawmakers favoring it include 2 Senators (both Republicans). Based on history, the chance of enactment is 2%.
Send questions and comments to Ned Flaherty: NFlaherty@MarriageEquality.org.