Dem lawmaker wants federal laws rewritten with gender neutral terms

Rep. Julia BrownleyJulia Andrews BrownleyCongress can make progress on fighting emissions with Zero Food Waste Act House passes veterans contraception, LGBTQ business bills previously blocked by GOP Overnight Defense: Tucker Carlson comments cause military rage | Capitol guard duty questioned | Vet who served in Marine One unit charged in insurrection MORE (D-Calif.) is kicking off the new Congress by introducing a bill that would rewrite federal laws with more gender neutral terms.

Under her legislation, known as the Amend the Code for Marriage Equality Act, the terms “husband” and “wife” in all federal laws would be replaced with the term “spouse.”

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“While the landmark Supreme Court decision ending the ban on same-sex marriage was a historic step in the right direction, there is still more work to be done to ensure that the LGBTQ community is treated equally under the law in all respects,” Brownley said in a statement Thursday. “Our words reflect our values, and every gendered reference in our federal code undermines and de-legitimizes same-sex couples.”

The Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in 2015, but LGBT rights advocates say discrimination against same-sex couples still persists.

Lambda Legal, a civil rights group, has filed two lawsuits in the past year challenging the Social Security Administration’s requirement that couples be married for at least nine months to qualify for survivor’s benefits.

Brownley introduced a similar bill in the previous Congress, and before that the bill was championed by former Rep. Lois CappsLois Ragnhild CappsFormer lawmakers sign brief countering Trump's claims of executive privilege in Jan. 6 investigation Dem lawmaker wants federal laws rewritten with gender neutral terms Dems pressure Fiat Chrysler to support recalled rental ban MORE (D-Calif.). The measure failed to make it out of committee.

Brownley said the new legislation will "recognize and re-affirm that all Americans have the right to marry the person they love, to ensure no one is denied federal benefits and protections because of who they love, and more broadly to make sure that same sex couples are treated equally under the law in all respects."