WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) issued the following statement after President Obama announced that legally married same-sex couples will now be eligible for more federal benefits in every state across the country:
"I commend President Obama for standing up in the fight for equality and fairness. This is another important step towards equality for every single American within the law regardless of whom they love.
"But our work will not be done until Congress stands on the right side of history and does its job by passing the Respect for Marriage Act. Only then can we finally put the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act policy fully behind us and ensure certainty for all loving committed couples across state lines. Marriage remains the true foundation for strong families and I will continue to fight to eliminate inequalities from our federal system, helping us to move forward as a country that fosters respect and equality for all."
Until today, only certain benefits were made available to couples in respective states with legalized same-sex marriage. The announcement today allows same-sex married couples across America to receive such benefits as family medical leave. However, there are still benefits such as certain Social Security and Veterans benefits prohibited to married same-sex couples living in states that do not recognize gay marriage, that can only be changed through legislation in Congress.
Senator Gillibrand has long championed the fight for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender equal rights and helped lead the effort in the Senate to repeal "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell." She was an original co-sponsor and leading advocate for the Respect for Marriage Act.