New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez on Sunday announced his support for a bill that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the 1996 law that bars federal agencies from recognizing the legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples, reversing his original vote in favor of the law.

“Since my vote in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act 15 years ago … I have reflected deeply and frequently about this issue,” Menendez wrote in an op-ed appearing Sunday in the Star-Ledger. “I have heard and listened to many different views. But for me, this comes down to an issue of fundamental fairness. For me, this comes down to the principles I learned as the child of immigrants and that I cherish as an American: that we believe in equality for all people under the law.”

“I believe the time has come to recognize the civil rights of the LGBT community. Fundamentally, I do not view this as an issue of special rights, but simply one of equal rights,” he added.

Menendez is the 32nd senator to sign on to the Respect for Marriage Act, which is sponsored in the Senate by California Senator Dianne Feinstein and in the House by New York Rep. Jarred Nadler.

The proposed legislation cleared a Senate committee early last month but is not expected to move in the Republican-controlled House.

Marc Solomon, national campaign director for Freedom to Marry, and Steven Goldstein, chair and CEO of Garden State Equality, applauded Menendez for his support.

“The so-called Defense of Marriage Act treats committed gay and lesbian couples as second-class citizens and denies them a crucial safety net of protections,” Solomon said in a statement.

“This is a spectacular moment in our movement to end discrimination in marriage,” Goldstein said. “As we in New Jersey know well, when Bob Menendez comes on board a cause, you gain more than a supporter – you gain a passionate civil rights champion that never stops fighting by your side.”