The long-awaited bill that would repeal
the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) will be introduced
Tuesday, its sponsor New York Representative Jerrold Nadler announced
The bill will be unveiled at a press
event Tuesday, September 15 at the House Triangle, an outdoor venue
near the southern steps of the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C.
DOMA, which was signed into law by
President Bill Clinton 13 years ago on September 21, defines marriage
as a heterosexual union for federal agencies and allows states to
ignore gay marriages performed by other states.
Nadler, a Democrat, is expected to be
accompanied by an army of GLBT leaders, including Joe Solmonese,
president of the Human Rights Campaign, Kevin Cathcart, executive
director of Lambda Legal, Rea Carey, executive director of the
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Evan Wolfson, executive director
of Freedom to Marry, Alan Van Capelle, executive director of Empire
State Pride Agenda, Christopher Anders, senior legislative counsel of
the ACLU, and Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center
for Lesbian Rights.
Openly gay legislators Wisconsin
Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin and Colorado Congressman Jared Polis are
also expected to attend.
The law has been under intense fire
since President Obama's Department of Justice defended the law in a
California lawsuit that aimed to overturn the statute. That suit has
since been dismissed on a technicality, but petitioners have vowed to
refile their challenge.
Nevertheless, the perception that Obama
was all tongue and no trousers on gay and lesbian rights was damaging
to the president who had pledged during the campaign he would work to
repeal the law.
“Married gay and lesbian couples pay
taxes, serve their communities, and raise children like other
couples,” Nadler's advisory on the bill said. “Their
contributions and needs are no different from those of their
neighbors. The new legislation will ensure that couples who assume
the serious legal duties of marriage are treated fairly under federal
How far the bill will go is the real
question. For example, some gay activists have suggested the bill
might simply recognize the marriages of gay and lesbian couples for
the purposes of the federal government, giving gay couples access to
federal benefits such as Social Security and federal pensions, but
leave in place those provisions that allow states to ignore gay
marriages performed outside their borders.
“The specifics of this legislation
will be announced on Tuesday,” the advisory said.