Cantwell is a long-time supporter of equal rights for all Americans, and equal treatment and access to federal benefits for same-sex couples. She has cosponsored legislation to repeal DOMA. In March, she signed onto an amicus brief filed with the Supreme Court in support of ruling DOMA unconstitutional. Cantwell is cosponsor of bills to prohibit public schools from discriminating against students and to prohibit workplace discrimination because of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. During 2009, President Barack Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law, which Cantwell helped pass through the Senate (P.L. 111-84).