- May 2013
- April 2013
- March 2013
- February 2013
- January 2013
- December 2012
- November 2012
- October 2012
- September 2012
- August 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- December 2011
- November 2011
- October 2011
- September 2011
- August 2011
- July 2011
- June 2011
- May 2011
- April 2011
- March 2011
- February 2011
- January 2011
- December 2010
- November 2010
- October 2010
- September 2010
- August 2010
- July 2010
- June 2010
- May 2010
- April 2010
- March 2010
- February 2010
- January 2010
- December 2009
- November 2009
- March 2009
- October 2006
- July 2002
America's Leading Gay News Source
Senate DOMA repeal hearing set for July 20
The Senate Judiciary Committee has announced that an anticipated hearing on legislative repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act has been set for July 20.
According to a notice, the hearing on DOMA repeal legislation, also known as the Respect for Marriage Act, will take place July 20 at 10 a.m. in Room 226 the Dirksen Senate Office Building. Witnesses who will testify at the hearing, which would be the first-ever in Congress against, DOMA will be announced in the coming days.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is co-sponsor of the legislation that would repeal DOMA, which prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. In the Senate, the legislation is sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), while Rep. Jerrold Nalder is the lead on House version of the legislation.
In a statement, Marc Solomon, national campaign director for Freedom to Marry, praised Leahy for holding the hearing at a time when New York recently approved a law legalizing same-sex marriage.
“Until DOMA’s enactment, the federal government had always honored marriages celebrated in the states,” Solomon said. “It’s time for Congress to end this gay exception and allow legally married same-sex couples access to the tools and security available to all other couples to build a life together and protect their families.”
Should Leahy decide to report out the DOMA repeal legislation during the hearing, he would have the votes to do so. The legislation has the necessary 10 votes in committee to move to the Senate floor.
All but one of the Democrats on the committee — Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) — are co-sponsors of the legislation. Klobuchar has said she’d support for the legislation should it come up for a vote.
Rick Jacobs, founder and chair of the Courage Campaign, said the first congressional hearing against DOMA marks a significant milestone for the LGBT community.
“In this particular calendar year and maybe since 2008, the word ‘historic’ has become cliche, but it’s true every single time,” Jacobs said. “I cannot underscore sufficiently how historic it is that the Judiciary Committee of the United States Senate is holding a hearing on repealing DOMA.”
Courage Campaign has been mounting a grassroots efforts to encourage more senators to sign on in support of DOMA repeal. This week, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) announced they would sign on as co-sponsors, bringing the total number of co-sponsors to 28. Klobuchar’s support raises that number to 29.
In a statement, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), a co-sponsor of the DOMA repeal bill, also praised Leahy for his decision to hold a hearing on DOMA repeal.
“Marriage is the true foundation for strong families,” she said. “Every loving, committed couple deserves the basic human right to get married, start a family, and have access to all the same rights and privileges that my husband and I enjoy. No politician should stand in the way of this fact.”
Gillibrand continued, “If Democrats and Republicans can come together to do what’s right in New York, I know we can do the same in Congress to do what’s right for all of America. Now is the time to act on the federal level.”
Jacobs said he hopes the personal stories from witnesses at the hearing will provide greater education on what the restrictions that DOMA imposes on same-sex couples and convince more senators beyond the 29 who have already expressed support to announce they will back the repeal bill.
“We hope what comes out of the hearing is a clear understanding by the American people of what the Defense of Marriage Act is, and the harm that it causes, and it’s unique historical nature,” Jacobs said. “It’s the only piece of legislation in American history that put the federal government in a position of interfering with the right of states to define marriage.”
One additional senator that Jacobs is eyeing as a potential new co-sponsor for the bill is Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), who voted for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal and who’s facing re-election in a heavily Democratic state in 2012.
“I think that he should be looking very, very carefully at this,” Jacobs said. “He’s sitting frankly in a aberrational seat there and he’s going to run again in Massachusetts. People in Massachusetts favor equality.”
Brown’s office didn’t immediately respond to Washington Blade’s request to comment on what the senator’s position on the Respect for Marriage Act is.
Tagged with Defense of Marriage Act, Patrick Leahy, Respect for Marriage Act, Senate Judiciary Committee
We welcome your thoughtful, respectful comments. Please read our 'Terms of Service' page for more information about community expectations.
Comments from new visitors, flagged users, or those containing questionable language are automatically held for moderation and may not appear immediately.