California Senator Dianne Feinstein has said she believes the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) will eventually be repealed.

Feinstein is the Senate sponsor of a bill that would repeal the 1996 law that bars federal agencies and the military from recognizing the legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples.

On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee began debate on whether to send the bill to the Senate floor. Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, the panel's chairman, announced that he had agreed to Iowa Senator Charles Grassley's request to hold over a vote on the bill until next week.

Speaking on MSNBC, Feinstein told host Thomas Roberts that passage in this Congress wasn't possible, but added that the politics were quickly changing for an eventual repeal.

“I don't think we have the votes right now,” Feinstein said. “But this is a changing picture. You know, when DOMA was passed, 15 years ago, not a single state supported same-sex marriage. Now you have six states plus the District of Columbia. Now that changes the argument, because family law and marriage is a preserve of the state. So you have a legal marriage and what DOMA does is deny federal benefits – federal social security benefits, family leave, estate tax protections – those kinds of things to same-sex couples. So it discriminates against one class of what is a legal class and that is the state determines who is legally married. So I think there are very good grounds to eventually get DOMA repealed.” (The video is embedded in the right panel of this page.)