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 committee.

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 conclusion.

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 his testimony.

“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 choice.

“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.

(Related: Senator Al Franken disputes Tom Minnery's claims against gay families.)