The lead sponsor of legislation that would repeal the federal ban on gay marriage says he expects the bill will remain on the back burner for the next year.

In a recent interview with gay weekly DC Agenda, New York Representative Jerrold Nadler said the bill is not ready for passage.

Nadler introduced the Respect for Marriage Act in September. The bill quickly rounded up 100 co-sponsors in its first 30 days, including two of Congress' three openly gay members – U.S. Reps. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisconsin, and Jared Polis, D-Colorado.

But the effort to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) has fallen victim to being a low priority, Nadler said.

“The Respect for Marriage Act is a bill that we can't pass right now; we know we can't pass it right now,” he said. “Some of the people we're dealing with are very busy with a number of other things. There's not a sense of urgency, the sense that this bill has to have a Senate sponsor right now because it's going to pass right now, because it's not, so we're talking.”

President Bill Clinton signed DOMA into law 13 years ago. The law defines marriage as a heterosexual union for federal agencies and allows states to ignore gay marriages performed in other states. Under DOMA legally married gay and lesbian couples cannot access federal benefits, including Social Security and pensions.

Opponents have also attacked the law in the courts. Lawsuits range in scope from aiming to declare the law unconstitutional to carving out federal concessions for gay couples married in one of the five states where the institution is recognized. Representative Baldwin has also introduced legislation that would create an exception to the law by extending benefits such as health care to the same-sex partners of federal employees. Her bill is quickly wending its way through the House.

While Nadler's bill would only repeal the law's ban on federal recognition of gay marriages – leaving intact the ability of states to decide for themselves on the issue – the idea remains too “avant garde,” Nadler said.

The measure also lacks the support of the nation's most powerful openly gay elected official, Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank. Frank has said debate on the issue would “stir up unnecessary opposition.” Unnecessary because there's little hope of passage in the near term, he added.

And a companion Senate version of the bill has yet to even find a sponsor. Nadler expects that to change next year, saying Senator Russ Feingold, a Democrat from Wisconsin, would “possibly” take up the cause in the Senate.

Despite the steep incline, Nadler is committed to repeal: “Even if you didn't have a lot of practical effects, which obviously it does have, it's wrong to keep such things on the books.”

“The honor of the country demands we repeal it,” he added.