foremost advocate for LGBT family equality, today offered its full
support for the Respect for Marriage Act introduced in the U.S.
Senate by Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
(D-NY), Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Sen. Christopher Coons (D-DE)
and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and in the U.S. House of
Representatives by Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Rep. Barney Frank
(D-MA), Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), Rep.
David Cicilline (D-RI) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI).
The Respect for Marriage Act repeals the Defense of Marriage Act
(DOMA) and restores the rights of all currently lawfully married
couples, including same-sex couples, allowing them to receive the
benefits of marriage under federal law. The bill also provides
same-sex couples with guarantees that federal benefits and
protections bestowed on a marriage in one state would continue even
if a couple moves or travels to another state.
“For LGBT families raising children, marriage is more than just
benefits and protections,” said Family Equality Council Executive
Director Jennifer Chrisler. “Marriage is also an institution that
carries with it a universal definition of family. It communicates
society’s acceptance of a loving relationship and the children
who are part of that family.”
Chrisler added, “If we can give some couples even this limited
recognition, we will be telling kids that their families are real
and worthy of our respect.”
Family Equality Council supporter and parent Brian Sheerin agreed.
“How we define our families is everything,” said Sheerin.
Sheerin and his partner, Ken Weissenberg, are raising two
daughters, ages 8 and 10. They married in Massachusetts in 2004 and
currently live in Bedford Corners, NY. They shared the story of how
they were forced to separate at U.S. Customs following a family
“We felt like we were under a microscope,” said Sheerin. “The
message to our kids was that we weren’t a real family. No child
should have to feel that way. When we explained to them why this
happened, they couldn’t understand that we were not considered
equal everywhere in our country.”
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