Robert Menendez on Gay Marriage
On December 18, 2011 Senator Menendez wrote an article in the New Jersey Star-Ledger. This article stated that he had reversed his position on gay marriage and was not supporting legislation to require that all states recognize gay marriage.
By Robert Menendez
Since my vote in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act 15 years ago, like tens of millions of Americans, I have reflected deeply and frequently about this issue. During this time, I have engaged in discussions about the issue of marriage equality with friends, family members, colleagues and of course, the people I serve in New Jersey. I have heard and listened to many different views.
But for me, this comes down to an issue of fundamental fairness. For me, this comes down to the principles I learned as the child of immigrants and that I cherish as an American: that we believe in equality for all people under the law.
So today, I am announcing my support for the Respect for Marriage Act, which repeals DOMA and ensures that all lawfully married couples — including same-sex couples — receive the benefits of marriage under federal law.
menendez.JPGSen. Robert Menendez
Across our country, the attitudes of millions of Americans have changed on this issue and several states have acted to guarantee the freedom to marry to same-sex couples whose love for each other and life commitment to one another is no different from other couples.
These gay men and gay women defend our streets and our citizens as firefighters and police officers; they are small-business people who create jobs; they are teachers who prepare our children to compete in the future. And they are soldiers, Marines and sailors who have put their lives on the line for our country, fighting to protect our freedoms and to combat terrorists who threaten to attack us again.
For many years, these millions of committed couples have argued that the freedom to marry — their freedom to marry — is a core civil rights issue. I now believe they are right.
In affirming marriage equality for individuals, it is important to remember that no church, no faith, no religion will be required — nor would I support requiring them — to perform marriages that are not consistent with the tenets of their religion.
In other states, the things that many of us take for granted — getting married, having a family, visiting a spouse in the hospital, making life and death decisions for a spouse in end-of-life situations, collecting spousal benefits to continue providing for our family — are still being denied to same-sex couples. Can you imagine not only dealing with a dying loved one and the inevitable fights with your insurance company, but also having to fight just to get into the hospital room to see the person you’ve loved and with whom you’ve spent your life? That’s fundamentally unfair, and I don’t want to be a part of continuing that discrimination.
I believe the time has come to recognize the civil rights of the LGBT community. Fundamentally, I do not view this as an issue of special rights, but simply one of equal rights.
No American should have to wait outside a hospital room while a loved one suffers inside. No American should lose inheritance simply because the federal government does not recognize the couple’s marriage. No child should feel that his or her parents are somehow less equal under the law than a best friend’s parents.
This kind of discrimination cannot be tolerated in our society as a matter of law, and it should not be tolerated. Two people who want to be committed to each other should be able to enter into marriage, and they should receive the benefits that flow from that commitment.
2006 Constitutional Amendment
In 2006 the Senate voted on adding a constitutional amendment which defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and ensured to no state would be capable of conferring marital status on a union other than a man or a woman. Robert Menendez voted against the 2006 amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman.
Robert Menendez voted against the 2006 amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman.
In 2006 and 2004, the House voted on adding a constitutional amendment to establish that marriage shall consist of one man and one woman. It sought to ensure that no measure enacted in one state could be enforced in another state. The measures failed in both 2006 and 2004 with the support of most Republicans and the opposition of most Democrats. Robert Menendez cast a "No Vote"
Marriage Protection Act of 2004
The Marriage Protection Act of 2004 sought to ensure that no State shall be required to give effect to any marriage between persons of the same sex under the laws of any other State. Although the bill passed the house in roll call 410, it was not voted on in the US Senate. Robert Menendez voted against the Marriage Protection Act.
Robert Menendez voted against the Marriage Protection Act.
Defense of Marriage Act
The Defense of Marriage Act Amends the Federal judicial code to provide that no State, territory, or possession of the United States or Indian tribe shall be required to give effect to any marriage between persons of the same sex under the laws of any other such jurisdiction or to any right or claim arising from such relationship. Establishes a Federal definition of: (1) "marriage" as only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife; and (2) "spouse" as only a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or wife. The bill passed the house on roll call 316 in 1996 and eventually became US law. Robert Menendez voted in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act.
Robert Menendez voted in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act.
Sponsored and Cosponsored Legislation
Amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to include a "permanent partner" within the scope of such Act. Defines a "permanent partner" as an individual 18 or older who: (1) is in a committed, intimate relationship with another individual 18 or older in which both individuals intend a lifelong commitment; (2) is financially interdependent with the other individual; (3) is not married to, or in a permanent partnership with, any other individual other than the individual; (4) is unable to contract with the other individual a marriage cognizable under this Act; and (5) is not a first, second, or third degree blood relation of the other individual. Defines a "permanent partnership" as the relationship existing between two permanent partners.
Provides for repeal of the current Department of Defense (DOD) policy concerning homosexuality in the Armed Forces, to be effective 60 days after the Secretary of Defense has received DOD's comprehensive review on the implementation of such repeal, and the President, Secretary, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) certify to the congressional defense committees that they have considered the report and proposed plan of action, that DOD has prepared the necessary policies and regulations to exercise the discretion provided by such repeal, and that implementation of such policies and regulations is consistent with the standards of military readiness and effectiveness, unit cohesion, and military recruiting and retention. Provides that, until such time as the above conditions are met, the current policy shall remain in effect.