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News - October 1996

GenderPAC calls for plan to rescue existing same-sex marriages

Decrying the recently-enacted Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the national advocacy organization GenderPAC has called on Congress to enact a "Family Preservation Act" to exempt existing, legal, same-sex marriages from DOMA-induced nullification.

At risk are scores of transgender couples in stable, long-term, marriages -- many with school-age children -- in which one partner or the other has legally changed their sex. Although the change of sex is recognized by the Federal government, under DOMA the marriage is not.

Not only are such families at risk of losing federal recognition but - - in case of death or disability -- the surviving spouse risks losing all rights to his or her partner's federal benefits, including federal pensions, Social Security, and portions of Worker's Compensation.

Said GenderPAC Congressional Advocacy Coordinator Dana Priesing, "Just like everywhere else, in the transcommunity people meet, fall in love, get married, and have children. Later one spouse undergoes gender reassignment, but just because he or she has legally changed sex, doesn't mean they suddenly cease being one-half of a working and productive family. Now DOMA has unnecessarily placed scores of such marriages in jeopardy."

Declared Riki Anne Wilchins, GenderPAC's Executive Director, "It is unconscionable that stable, long-term marriages are being pulled asunder by the federal government. How can nullifying a loving, two-parent marriage, which is successfully raising children, possibly help `family values?' These are exactly the kinds of families everyone wants to preserve."

In an effort to protect validly- contracted same-sex marriages from DOMA's reach, GenderPAC has drafted corrective legislation, and is beginning its search for Congressional sponsorship. At the same time, Ms. Priesing is seeking clarification from the Department of Justice on the fate of existing same-sex unions under DOMA.


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