A U.S. Senate committee has announced a first-ever hearing on repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the 1996 law that bars federal agencies from recognizing the legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, announced the upcoming hearing in a statement.

“[I]n the coming weeks, the Committee will hold the first congressional hearing on proposals to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.”

The Respect for Marriage Act, introduced in the Senate by California Senator Dianne Feinstein, has attracted 25 co-sponsors since its March debut, including Leahy.

Also onboard are a majority of the Democratic members on the Judiciary Committee.

The bill was first proposed in 2009 by New York Representative Jerrold Nadler.

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay rights group, thanked lawmakers for their leadership on the issue.

“We thank Sens. Leahy, Feinstein, and [Kirsten] Gillibrand for their leadership in ending federal marriage discrimination as well as Rep. Nadler for his advocacy in the House,” Solmonese said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to work with them on this upcoming hearing and until all marriages are treated equally in the eyes of the law.”

(Related: Obama administration argues DOMA is unconstitutional.)