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Clinton signs Defense of Marriage Act, Sept. 21, 1996

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    On Sept. 21, 1996, Democratic President Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act. The law freed states from the obligation to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states and defined marriage for federal government purposes as the union of one man and one woman.

    An Associated Press article in the Sept. 11, 1996, European Stars and Stripes of Darmstadt, Germany described the impetus for the legislation, which had just passed the Senate 85-14 after clearing the House of Representatives in July. “Senate supporters of the bill called it a common-sense response to a lawsuit going to trial Tuesday that could lead Hawaii to become the first state to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.”

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Read contemporary opinions about the Defense of Marriage Act

    In a column published May 28, 1996, in The Intelligencer Record of Doylestown, Penn.,  Ellen Goodman suggests that gay rights activists should prioritize other goals above marriage. DOMA More Offensive Than Anything Else

In a Sept. 21, 1996, staff editorial, the Daily News-Record of Harrisonburg, Va., took issue with one senator’s opposition to DOMA. Has Senator Robb Simply Lost Touch?

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