Some Congressional leaders in America are considering partially repealing the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which would enable the federal government to recognise same-sex marriages.

DOMA defines marriage as a legal union between a man and a woman for the purpose of all federal laws, and also allows states to refuse to recognise same-sex marriages from other states.

While the federal government does not recognise any same-sex marriages, a handful of states have now legalised these. The couples in question are denied around 1,100 federal benefits by the act, benefits which are usually afforded to heterosexual spouses.

Christopher Anders, senior legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union, said: “The idea is to recognise a relationship or marriage that is recognised by a state.”

This means that “you would be entitled to the federal benefits and protections and liabilities of marriage,” he added.

According to, President Obama supports full repeal of DOMA, but the Human Rights Campaign’s Joe Solmonese said it was difficult to gauge whether this legislation would be prioritised by the White House because the administration has not provided such information to the HRC.

“We have had weekly conversations with the White House about the agenda for our community, but we haven’t gotten the priority list from the White House,” he said.

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