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.”
administration argues DOMA is unconstitutional.)