Two Iowa lawmakers – Senator Chuck
Grassley and Rep. Steve King – on Wednesday testified in favor of
the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
DOMA, which was signed into law by
President Bill Clinton in 1996, bans federal agencies from
recognizing the legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples.
During a Senate Judiciary Committee
that lasted more than 2 hours, several gay couples testified that
they had been harmed by the law.
Ron Wallen of Indio, California told
the panel that his income dropped by more than two-thirds after his
husband Tom died from Leukemia. Wallen said he could not access
Social Security survivor benefits because of DOMA.
“That additional benefit would have
done for me what it does for every other surviving spouse in America:
Ease the pain of loss, help during a very difficult transition, and
allow time to make decisions and plan for my future alone. Yet I
could not depend on this benefit after 58 years with my spouse simply
because of DOMA. This is unfair. This is unjust,” Wallen told the
King, a vocal opponent of gay rights,
testified in favor of the law, and claimed that no court has ever
found DOMA to be unconstitutional.
Portions of the law, however, have been
declared unconstitutional by federal judges in at least four recent
cases. Last month, a
federal bankruptcy court in California declared section 3 of DOMA was
unconstitutional. Earlier this year, a
New York court ruled against the law, and a
federal judge in two cases in Massachusetts came to the same
King cited the passage of
constitutional amendments banning gay marriage in 30 states, the
ousting of three Iowa Supreme Court judges whose ruling legalized
such unions in Iowa, and Maine's rejection of a gay marriage law in
“Despite the clear will of the people
we have legislation like S598 before us today,” King told
lawmakers. “We also have the president saying DOMA is
unconstitutional despite no court ever reaching that conclusion.”
He also declared that sexual
orientation is not an immutable characteristic, suggesting it's a
“This [DOMA] is good for families,
good for society and good for government,” he added.
Members of Congress “did not support
DOMA to express disapproval of gay and lesbian people, and neither
did I,” Senator Grassley said in reading from his prepared remarks.
“Marriage is an institution that
serves the same public purpose all over the world: to foster unions
that can result in procreation, creates incentives for husbands and
wives to support each other and their children. It exists more to
benefit children than adults, although many marriages do not involve
children,” Grassley added.
Al Franken disputes Tom Minnery's claims against gay families.)