In 1996, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was signed into law that prohibits the United States government from recognizing marriage between individuals of the same-sex performed in territories, states and countries where it is legal. It further specifies that individual states are not obligated to recognize same-sex marriages that were performed in territories, states and countries where it is legal.
DOMA is a discriminatory policy that has substantial negative impact on the access to health care, as well as on the physical and mental health, of those in loving, committed same-sex marriages. While the National Organization for Marriage advocates for opposite-sex marriage only, they dismiss the needs of same-sex couples that would automatically be provided by legal marriage.
It is well established that couples in opposite-sex marriages enjoy many benefits not afforded couples in same-sex marriages including tax benefits, insurance benefits, inheritance benefits, hospital visitation rights, next-of-kin precedence and permanent residency status. Employers in states that do not recognize same-sex marriage are under no legal obligation to provide benefits for same-sex partners as they would opposite-sex spouses. This leads to a substantial disparity among health care access for lesbian and gay couples.
No other single policy in the United States has as broad-reaching discrimination against lesbian and gay couples as DOMA. DOMA should be repealed so that all married couples in the United States, irrespective of sexual orientation, are afforded spousal privileges under the law.