U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., introduced a bill that would repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and provide legally married same-sex couples the same rights and benefits as heterosexual couples, according to The Oakland Tribune.

The Respect for Marriage Act, introduced on Wednesday, would allow same-sex couples to receive spousal Social Security benefits, file joint federal tax returns, exempt same-sex spouses from inheritance taxes, and provide more than 1,000 other federal benefits and protections of marriage.

In a statement released Wednesday, Feinstein said, “There are tens of thousands of legally married same-sex couples in the United States, and more than 18,000 in my home state of California alone.  These couples live their lives like all married people; they share the bills, they raise children together, and they care for each other in good times and bad, in sickness and in health, until death do they part.  But because of DOMA, they have been denied federal protections. It is time to right this wrong.  This bill will ensure that all married couples in the United States enjoy equal protection of our laws.”

Eighteen other senators, all Democrats, have signed on as sponsors to the bill. Among them, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., in a statement said, “DOMA was wrong and unconstitutional when I voted against it fifteen years ago, in 1996, and it’s equally wrong and unconstitutional today. This discriminatory law treats loving, committed same-sex couples like second-class citizens by denying them thousands of federal benefits. It’s overdue for Congress to ease the pain that Congress caused in the first place.”