A U.S. Senate committee on Thursday is
expected to vote on a bill that would repeal the Defense of Marriage
Act (DOMA), the 1996 law that bars federal agencies and the military
from recognizing the legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples.
The law also allows states to ignore
the marriages of gay couples.
A majority of the members on the Senate
Judiciary Committee support the bill, including its chairman, Vermont
Senator Patrick Leahy, making passage an almost foregone conclusion.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, sponsored the
bill in the Senate.
But the issue is a non-starter in the
House, where its speaker, John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, has
approved a budget of
up to $1.5 million to defend the law in court.
Supporters of the law say its repeal
would lead to the erosion of religious liberty for people who oppose
“Marriage is critically important
because the marriage-based family is the original and best Department
of Health, Education and Welfare,” Robert P. George, the founder of
the American Principles Project and chairman emeritus of the National
Organization for Marriage (NOM), told Catholic
News Agency, which simply described George as a law
professor at Princeton University.
“There can be no doubt that the
repression of religious liberty is coming because there is no doubt
that the repression of religious liberty is already taking place,”
George went on to argue that gay
activists would not stop at marriage and are already planning to open
up the institution to “households in which there is more than one
“These are not fringe figures,” he
The United States Conference of
Catholic Bishops (USCCB) also is opposed to repeal.
“While all persons merit our full
respect, no other relationships provide for the common good what
marriage between husband and wife provides,” Archbishop Timothy
Dolan, president of the USCCB, recently
wrote in a letter urging President Obama to defend DOMA. “The
law should reflect this reality.”