Next week, a U.S. Senate committee will
hold 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.”
to gay weekly The Washington Blade, the hearing will take
place on Wednesday, July 20 at 10AM in room 226 of the Dirksen Senate
Office Building. A witness list is forthcoming.
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.
Sean Eldridge, senior advisor for
Freedom to Marry, said with a gay marriage law taking effect in New
York this month the hearing's timing is perfect.
“Until DOMA's enactment, the federal
government had always honored marriages celebrated in the states,”
he said. “It's time for Congress to end this gay exception and
allow legally married same-sex couples access to the tools and
security available to all other couples to build a life together and
protect their families.”