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Defense of Marriage Act awaits action in 21 states


WASHINGTON (BP)–You may live in one of 21 states yet to protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
“If you’re in a state that hasn’t passed the Defense of Marriage Act, contact your legislators and find out why they haven’t passed it,” said Bill Duncan, associate director of the Marriage Law Project in Washington D.C.
“Every person makes a difference in this important issue,” he said.
The federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton in September 1996. It defines marriage as the “legal union of one man and one woman as husband and wife” and also stipulates that no state can be required to recognize same-sex marriages from other states.
But the catch is that DOMA only protects states that have passed laws taking the same stance. To date, 29 states have passed such laws, beginning with Hawaii in 1994 and Utah in 1995.
Fifteen states passed the law in 1996: Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas Michigan, Missouri (later struck down because of a procedural error), North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota and Tennessee.
Nine states followed in 1997: Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota and Virginia.
And in 1998: Alabama, Iowa, Kentucky and Washington.
California is putting DOMA on its March 2000 ballot. Doing so entailed the enlistment of about 25,000 volunteers who gathered more than 679,000 signatures on petitions in five months.
“In some states one or two people have made a difference,” Duncan said. “California usually is a state where things don’t happen quickly, but look at what concerned people were able to accomplish in a few months’ time.”