California Senator Dianne Feinstein on
Wednesday introduced legislation that would repeal the Defense of
Marriage Act (DOMA).
Feinstein's measure would end 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 from other states.
New York Representative Jerrold Nadler
first introduced his Respect for Marriage Act in September 2009, but
without a companion Senate bill the effort fizzled. Nadler
reintroduced his bill earlier on Wednesday.
to gay weekly Metro
Weekly, Feinstein announced her bill at an afternoon news
conference flanked by Democratic Senators Kirsten Gillibrand of New
York, Chris Coons of Delaware and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.
Senator Patrick Leahy, who voted in
favor of the 1996 law, has separately said he would support the
effort. In 2009, Leahy told Vermont Public Radio that he had
reversed his position on allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry.
“DOMA was wrong and unconstitutional
when I voted against it fifteen years ago, in 1996, and it's equally
wrong and unconstitutional today,” Massachusetts Senator John Kerry
said in a statement. “This discriminatory law treats loving,
committed same-sex couples like second-class citizens by denying them
thousands of federal benefits. It's overdue for Congress to ease the
pain that Congress caused in the first place.”
DOMA is getting a second look in the
wake of President
Barack Obama's announcement that his administration would no longer
defend the law in court, which prompted Republican House Speaker
John Boehner to take up the cause.
Repealing DOMA faces an uphill battle
without Republican support, especially in the GOP-controlled House,
where more than 80
lawmakers have signed onto a bill that would force the president to
defend the law in court.
poll released on Tuesday shows a majority of Americans oppose DOMA.