by Lena Torres | Staff Writer |
A bill that will provide marriage rights to same sex unions has passed through a key Senate committee.
The Respect for Marriage Act (RMA) has passed through the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The RMA is designed to restore the rights of same sex couples and unlawfully married couples so that they can receive the benefits of marriage under federal law.
The RMA repeals the U.S. Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which has not been challenged in over 15 years.
“DOMA was wrong when it passed in 1996 and it is wrong now,” said Sen. Diane Feinstein in a press release.
Currently same sex couples are denied over 1,100 federal rights and protections that other married couples are granted.
Some of the rights include: the right to file federal joint income taxes and claim certain deductions, the right to receive spousal benefits under Social Security, and the right to obtain the protections of the estate tax when one spouse wants to leave his or her possession to another.
CSUSB students express their opinions on the RMA.
“It’s about time. Same sex couples should be entitled to the same rights as other married couples,” said student Ashley Collins.
Others believe that things should remain the way that they are.
“DOMA passed for a reason. We should leave things as they are,” said student Joseph Green.
In 1996 when DOMA passed there were no states that permitted same sex marriage. However Vermont, Connecticut, Iowa, New York, New Hampshire and Massachusetts now permit same sex marriage.
Though RMA will not permit same sex marriage in states where it is not allowed, the 131,000 same sex married couples that exist will be granted the same rights as other married couples.
“It’s not fair to treat same sex couples different than other couples,” said student Sandra Brown. “I fully support the bill,” she continued.
Behind Feinstein, the RMA has the support of 30 other senators, as well as Pres. Barack Obama.
“Californians in these marriages deserve to be treated the same by the federal government and other states as Californians in other valid marriages,” said Gov. Jerry Brown in a press release.
RMA is the first bill of its kind to reach the Senate floor, however, it is not certain whether or not it will become a law.
“The way we achieve equality is through a step-by-step process,” said Feinstein.
RMA’s passing through the Senate is only one step of many to come on the road to becoming a law.
“I don’t know how long the battle for full equality will take,” said Feinstein, “but we are on the cusp of change.”