Governors back repeal of DOMA

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November 15, 2011

Washington, DC: Governors across the country are urging Congress to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. The 1996 act defining marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman authorizes states to deny recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions.

Currently, gay marriage is legal in six states and the District of Columbia. Governors in four of those states - Dan Malloy of Connecticut, Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, Andrew Cuomo of New York and Peter Shumlin of Vermont - were joined by California governor Jerry Brown and several mayors across the country in writing letters to the Senate Judiciary Committee. In the letters, DOMA was referred to as "a stain on our common values" that "disrespects our states' decisions to treat all of our citizens equally."[1]

Governors from Iowa and New Hampshire, the two other states in which gay marriage is a legally recognized union, did not write letters. New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch is up for re-election in 2012. Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad is not up for re-election, but gay marriage has become a hot political topic in his state. In the 2010 judicial elections, three Iowa Supreme Court justices who supported the 2009 decision to allow gay couples to marry in the state were up for retention. All three were voted out of office, marking the first time a justice had not been retained since 1962, when the retention system was adopted.[2] Just last week in a special election, Liz Mathis (D) won election to the seat vacated when Swati Dandekar left office to accept an appointment to the Iowa Utilities Board. That victory allowed the Democratic Party to maintain a 26-24 majority in the Iowa State Senate and likely stall a legislative effort to put to popular vote a constitutional amendment that could reverse the court's 2009 decision.

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