Delaware Senator Chris Coons has disputed Republican claims that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) does not do harm to gay couples and that Democrats are pandering on the issue.

DOMA, which was approved in 1996, bars federal agencies and the military from recognizing the legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples.

On Thursday, a bill that would repeal DOMA cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee along a 10-8 party line vote.

After the vote, Coons hit back at Republicans on the panel, most of whom said they supported DOMA.

“There were a number of [Republican] points made that I really struggled with. The suggestion that progress towards marriage equality does not belong in the long trajectory of the civil rights movement. That DOMA does not cause any harm to gay and lesbian committed partners who are recognized as married by their home states. And that federalism compels us to continue to enshrine discrimination in federal law through continuing DOMA. And to me, most pointedly, one suggestion was made that the Democrats, who moved it forward through committee, were simply pandering to a special interest group.”

“Equality is not a narrow interest. Equality is not a special interest. Equality is a fundamental interest of the American people,” Coons added. (The video is embedded in the right panel of this page.)

(Related: John Cornyn claims Democrats' support for DOMA repeal is pandering.)