A key Senate committee is expected to
vote on Wisconsin Representative Tammy Baldwin's Domestic Partnership
Benefits and Obligations Act of 2009 (DPBO) on December 16.
The scheduled meeting was posted Friday
on the committee's website and confirmed to On Top Magazine as
a final markup by a committee staffer who did not wish to be
identified. The staffer said several amendments might be considered
before members take a final vote.
The bill would extend benefits to the
same-sex partners of federal employees. The legislation is necessary
because the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a law that prohibits the
federal government from recognizing gay unions, bars such benefits.
DPBO would carve out an exception to the law.
Introduced in May, the bill has quickly
wended its way through both chambers of Congress and it received a
significant boost in November when a House committee approved the
bill with an overwhelming 23 to 12 vote.
However, the bill faces a tougher
audience in Senator Joseph Lieberman's Homeland Security &
Governmental Affairs Committee, where a minority of members – 7 out
of 17 – have signed on as co-sponsors.
But if Democrats – and Independent
Chairman Lieberman, who favors the legislation – remain united in
voting for the bill, then passage is assured. Among Republicans,
only Senator Susan Collins of Maine is expected to vote in favor of
the bill. The remaining members – Senators Tom Coburn, John
McCain, George V. Voinovich, John Ensign, Lindsey Graham and Robert
F. Bennett – score
low on the Human Rights Campaign's (HRC) Congressional Scorecard,
an annual report that measures a lawmaker's support for gay rights.