Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, the
chairman of the Senate Judiciary 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
The committee will begin debate on the
bill next Thursday, Leahy announced on Tuesday.
“The march for equality continues,
and now is the time to ensure equality for gay and lesbian Americans
who are lawfully married,” Leahy said in announcing consideration
of the bill in the committee. “This is part of the nation's
continuing fight for civil rights for all Americans.”
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
is a non-starter in the GOP-controlled House, where its speaker, John
Boehner, is defending the law in court.
Boehner criticizes Obama's gay marriage decision.)
Still, passage out of the committee
will represent a symbolic victory for gay marriage advocates.
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.