Congresswoman Julie Brownley, a Democrat from California, is spearheading a movement to implement gender-neutral language in place of gender-specific terms within federal law.
In a recent press statement, Brownley highlighted that despite the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Obergefell v. Hodges case, which affirms the marital rights of same-sex couples, there are several instances where U.S. Code fails to uphold this constitutional right.
Her proposed legislation, named the Amend the Code for Marriage Equality Act, intends to substitute gender-specific words like ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ in federal laws with gender-neutral equivalents such as ‘spouse’ or ‘married person.’
Brownley emphasizes the urgency of this legislation given the current political climate, where she sees the Supreme Court and some state legislatures as undermining the rights of the LGBTQ+ community.
Brownley emphasized, “Given the current context with a severe Supreme Court and state legislatures diminishing the rights of the LGBTQ community, Congress must demonstrate its unwavering commitment to upholding equality.”
Brownley stated the importance of the initiative: “Congress needs to demonstrate its unwavering support for equality.”
Moreover, the bill proposes replacing phrases like ‘husband and wife,’ ‘former wife,’ and ‘one man and one woman’ with ‘married couple,’ ‘person who has previously been married,’ and ‘two spouses,’ respectively.
This is not the first time Brownley has introduced this legislation. She also tried to push the bill through in 2021, 2019, and 2017, following its original introduction by former Rep. Lois Capps, a California Democrat, in 2015. In 2021, 39 Democrats joined to co-sponsor this initiative.
The legislation proposed by Brownley aims to amend several federal laws, including the “Ethics in Government Act of 1978,” the “Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993,” and the “Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971,” among others.
Brownley explained the rationale behind the bill, saying, “This pragmatic legislation is geared towards ensuring that our federal laws respect the equality of all marriages, underpinning the significance of our legal vocabulary and reflecting our national values in our legislations.”