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Heinrich Cosponsors Bill To Ensure Married Same-Sex Couples Are Treated Equally Under Federal Law

“Guaranteeing equal protection under the law is right and just."

WASHINGTON, DC (Jan. 8, 2015) U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) cosponsored S. 29, the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill to ensure all legally-married, same-sex couples are treated equally under federal law. The bill seeks to fully implement the Supreme Court’s decision striking down the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act.

"All couples who have solidified their life-long commitment to each other through marriage deserve the same rights and responsibilities regardless of where they live," said Sen. Heinrich. "Guaranteeing equal protection under the law is right and just. I fully support marriage equality and strengthening American families."

In June 2014, one year after the Supreme Court's ruling in Windsor v. United States, the Justice Department issued areport concluding that without legislation, married same-sex couples will continue to be denied some critical federal benefits. Specifically, the report concluded the government could not issue Social Security or veterans' benefits to some married, same-sex couples because the agencies "are required by law to confer marriage-related benefits based on the law of the state in which the married couple reside or resided, preventing the extension of benefits to same-sex married couples" in certain states.

The Justice Department report stated that enactment of a bill like the Respect for Marriage Act would ensure that federal benefits are awarded equally and that the administration would "work closely with Congress to ensure that veterans and elderly and disabled Americans can obtain for themselves or their spouses the essential benefits they have earned no matter where they live."

The bill was introduced by U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and U.S. Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) introduced the companion bill in the House of Representatives. A total 42 senators and 79 House members are original cosponsors of the bill.