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.

According 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.

A poll released on Tuesday shows a majority of Americans oppose DOMA.