The Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 law that remains one of the biggest obstacles to marriage equality today, has lost another supporter, this time a GOPer swept into Congress in the Tea Party wave of 2010. Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY) announced in a statement late last week that he has signed onto the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill to repeal DOMA. Since its passage in 1996, DOMA has defined marriage on a federal level as between one man and one woman, purposefully excluding gay and lesbian couples. DOMA also denies gay people who have legally wed in their states countless federal benefits and protections, such as Social Security survivor benefits if one partner dies. However, the 16-year-old discriminatory law could be in its waning days. Though President Bill Clinton had signed the law, most Democrats now oppose it, and are gaining momentum in bringing Republicans on board. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) already opposes DOMA, and now Hanna becomes the 2nd GOPer to pull his support, as he detailed in an announcement Friday: “New York State allows all its citizens the freedom to marry the person they love,” he said. “Under the Tenth Amendment, the federal government has a Constitutional responsibility to respect New York’s right to set its own laws. It’s my job to see that it does."
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