Overturning federal marriage discrimination is a key part of Freedom to Marry’s three-track Roadmap to Victory,, which also includes winning marriage in more states and growing and diversifying the majority support for marriage nationwide.

Same-sex couples in the United States can experience three layers of marriage rights and discrimination. Thousands of couples across the country are denied the same state and federal protections given to legally married couples in those states because they are denied the right to marry.

For those legally married couples who live in a state that respects their marriage, those couples are eligible for both state and federal protections and responsibilities. Same-sex couples who legally wed in a freedom to marry state but live in one of the 15 states that does not respect their marriage may have access to some federal rights and benefits - but not to others, at least not immediately. It is this disparate treatment and further lack of respect by the federal government because of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which makes repealing DOMA and passage of the Respect for Marriage Act crucial.

On June 26, 2013, the United States Supreme Court overturned Section 3 of DOMA, taking the first step toward returning the federal government to its longstanding practice of honoring marriages celebrated in the states, without a “gay exception.” The ruling has already been implemented in several essential areas. Now, DOMA must be fully overturned, not only to take this discriminatory language off the U.S. statutes for good but also to codify crucial programs and ensure certainty regardless of where a legally married couple lives. We know that all married couples – including same-sex couples – should be treated as married by the federal government no matter where they live. That would be ensured by repealing DOMA and passing the Respect for Marriage Act. 

Access to federal marital protections for married same-sex couples who have moved to states that discriminate against their marriages may take some work – chiefly by pursuing congressional repeal through the Respect for Marriage Act. Freedom to Marry’s federal program educates and enlists Beltway decision-makers, elected officials, and influencers to make the case for the freedom to marry while building support for the Respect for Marriage Act, which would fully overturn DOMA. Learn more about the Respect for Marriage Act HERE. 

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Freedom to Marry’s Federal Program

Freedom to Marry has 4 overarching goals for our federal program:

  1. Elevate the marriage conversation in federal circles to empower decision-makers;
  2. Advance the Respect for Marriage Act to fully overturn DOMA;
  3. Use federal work to synergize and stimulate nationally, to win more states and to grow and diversify the majority of Americans who support the freedom to marry through our Congressional work; work with allies and the Respect for Marriage Coalition, and galvanize support for Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry and Mayors for the Freedom to Marry.
  4. Work with the Obama Administration to implement the Supreme Court decision to overturn Section 3 of DOMA. See all of the ways that the ruling has been implemented so far HERE

The Respect for Marriage Act

Freedom to Marry works to advance the Respect for Marriage Act, using the momentum from the June 2013 ruling overturning Section 3 of DOMA to make the case for fully repealing DOMA and ensuring that all marriages enjoy equal respect by the federal government.

The Respect for Marriage Act was re-introduced on June 26, 2013 in the U.S. House by Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) with 161 sponsors (H.R. 2523) and in the U.S. Senate by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) with 41 sponsors (S. 1236). Learn more about the bill HERE.

To increase congressional support for the bills, Freedom to Marry deploys its bipartisan team of lobbyists to meet directly with Congressmembers and their staffs on Capitol Hill; mobilizes grassroots advocates across the country to encourage their representatives to cosponsor the bill; and partners with state advocacy organizations to arrange in-district meetings with Congressmembers.

Freedom to Marry also founded and co-chairs the Respect for Marriage Coalition, a coalition of more than 100 health, civil rights, labor, LGBT, and other organizations committed to passing the Respect for Marriage Act and advancing the freedom to marry.

Freedom to Marry's Federal Office 

Freedom to Marry operates an office in Washington, D.C. as part of our focused and comprehensive approach to overturning DOMA.

Email our Federal Director Jo Deutsch at jo@freedomtomarry.org or Federal Associate Kirsten Lance at kirsten@freedomtomarry.org if you have any questions.

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