Social Policy & Politics Program | Report

Then and Now: How the State of Relationship Recognition Has Changed Since DOMA

by Lanae Erickson Hatalsky

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Fifteen years ago this month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The bill, which defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman under federal law, passed by a vote of 342-67—an outcome that roughly reflected public opinion at the time. But over the past decade and a half, our society has undergone a seismic shift in how it recognizes and accepts the relationships of gay and lesbian couples. This report provides a snapshot of this dramatic transformation and illustrates the crystallizing consensus in favor of legal relationship recognition for gay and lesbian couples, extending all the way to marriage in many parts of the country. In 1996, DOMA was thought to have ended the debate on marriage. But it seems to have been only the beginning of a more profound shift in favor of gay and lesbian couples.

Relationship Recognition Infographic

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