Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy will join
California Senator Dianne Feinstein in an effort to repeal the
Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
President Obama announced he would no longer defend the Clinton-era
law that bans federal agencies from recognizing the legal
marriages of gay and lesbian couples and allows states to ignore such
marriages, New York Representative Jerrold Nadler urged Democrats to
support his bill that would repeal the law.
The repeal measure was introduced with
little fanfare in 2009 in the House, where it rounded up 100
co-sponsors in its first 30 days. It ultimately lost steam when it
failed to attract a Senate sponsor.
on Thursday announced she would carry the measure in the Senate.
On Friday, Leahy told constituents that
he would join the effort.
“As a Vermonter who has been married
for 48 years, I believe it is important to encourage and to sanction
committed relationships; relationships that encourage us all to give
back to our community; and relationships that complete our lives.
Vermont led the way by being the first state to adopt a same-sex
marriage law through a legislative process. Now that several states
that have voted to give full marriage rights to same-sex couples, I
believe that the Federal government should not interfere with those
laws or discriminate between marriages sanctioned by State law,”
Leahy wrote in an email to supporters first published
at the website JoeMyGod.blogspot.com.
“The Defense of Marriage Act denies
some Vermont families equal treatment, creating a system of
second-class citizens. This goes against American values and it must
end. In the coming days, I will join with Senator Dianne Feinstein to
introduce legislation to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.”
Leahy added that the president's
decision had moved the federal government “in the right direction.”
In 1996, Leahy voted in favor of DOMA.
But in 2009, he told Vermont Public Radio that he had reversed his