Advertisement

Gov. Martin O'Malley, who has pledged to sponsor a same-sex marriage bill in Annapolis next year, is also pushing Congress to repeal a federal law that denies benefits to same-sex partners.

O'Malley, a Democrat, was one of 15 state and local leaders across the nation to sign a letter to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.

Advertisement

"Tens of thousands of loving and committed gay and lesbian couples have been strengthened because our states recognize their equal right to marry," the letter read. "These couples work hard, pay taxes and share the same values as other married couples but they are constantly hamstrung in their ability to protect themselves and their families because of the discriminatory" law.

The judiciary committee voted along party lines to approve the repeal, though the legislation faces a difficult path in the Senate where 60 votes are required to overcome filibuster threats. Of the 15 officials who signed the letter, 12 are Democrats, two are independents and one is Republican.

The Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, prevents same-sex partners from receiving many of the benefits enjoyed by other married couples, including: Social Security survivor benefits, federal employee health benefits and the guarantee of family medical leave.

The Democratic-controlled Maryland General Assembly failed to pass a same-sex marriage bill this year but O'Malley has vowed to support the measure next year. Six states -- Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont -- and the District of Columbia permit same-sex marriage.

Advertisement
Advertisement