Iowa Senator Charles Grassley has reiterated his support for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the 1996 law that defines marriage as a heterosexual union for federal agencies and the military.

Grassley is among the eight Republicans who sit on the 18-member Senate Judiciary Committee set to begin debate Thursday on a bill that would repeal the law.

The senator “has been very clear how he feels about this bill,” Beth Levine, a Grassley spokesperson, told gay weekly The Washington Blade.

Grassley, whose home state of Iowa is one of six states where gay and lesbian couples can legally marry, favored the legislation in 1996. And in remarks during a hearing on repeal, he stated he remains a supporter.

Members of Congress “did not support DOMA to express disapproval of gay and lesbian people, and neither did I,” he 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.

While the bill is expected to clear the Democrat-controlled panel – perhaps as early as next week – it is anticipated that it will do so without any Republican support.

So far, the bill has the endorsement of only one Republican: Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

(Related: Gay marriage foes attack GOPer Ileana Ros-Lehtinen for supporting DOMA repeal.)