Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, the
chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Friday announced that
the committee has scheduled a vote for a bill that would repeal the
Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the law that defines marriage for
federal agencies and the military as a heterosexual union.
Leahy said consideration of the bill
would take place in November.
“The march for equality continues,
and now is the time to ensure equality for gay and lesbian Americans
who are lawfully married,” Leahy, who supports repeal, said in a
statement. “Next month, I will call up the Respect
for Marriage Act for debate and a vote in the Judiciary
Committee. The Respect for Marriage Act would repeal the Defense of
Marriage Act, which prevents thousands of American families from
being protected by laws that help secure other American families.
This is part of the nation's continuing fight for civil rights for
While the panel's Democratic majority
backs the bill – making approval a near forgone conclusion –
Republican members are uniformly opposed to the measure. The issue
in the GOP-controlled House is a non-starter.
Still, passage out of the committee
will represent a symbolic victory for gay marriage advocates.
“Thousands of loving and committed
couples have gotten married in New York and other states since the
Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on the Respect for Marriage
Act in July, and all of them are now enduring harms because of the
so-called Defense of Marriage Act and its double standard,” said
Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry. “It is time for
Congress to repeal DOMA's discrimination, and we are pleased that
Senator Leahy is moving the Respect for Marriage Act forward.”
The legislation was first introduced in
2009 by New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler. California Senator Dianne
Feinstein is the bill's primary sponsor in the Senate.