House and Senate Dems launch attack on DOMA

Democrats filed legislation to repeal DOMA, less than a week after House Republicans pledged to defend it in court.
Thu Mar 17, 2011 - 7:01 pm EST

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 17, 2011 ( – U.S. House and Senate Democrats launched their own attack Wednesday against the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), filing legislation to repeal the 1996 federal statute, less than a week after House Republicans pledged to defend it in court.

U.S. Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and John Conyers (D-Mich.) introduced the repeal legislation in the House, known as the Respect for Marriage Act. The measure has 108 co-sponsors including four openly homosexual House members: Reps. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), David Cicilline (D-R.I.), Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.).

“Now that we have repealed ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ the Defense of Marriage Act remains the only example of overt discrimination against gays and lesbians written into our federal statutes,” Baldwin said at a press conference.

On the same day U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif) filed a bill to repeal DOMA in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Feinstein’s measure has 18 co-sponsors, including Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).

The federal DOMA establishes the right of States to deny recognition of same-sex “marriages” contracted in other states, when their own laws define marriage as the legal union of a man and a woman. The measure was enacted in 1996 in response to concerns that Hawaii might become the first state to legalize same-sex “marriage.”

Section 3 of DOMA also states that the term “marriage” in federal law means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.

With Republicans firmly in charge of the House, it is unlikely that repeal efforts will move forward in that chamber. Both the House and Senate must agree to a single bill in order to repeal the law.

Just last week, U.S. House Speaker John Boehner announced that DOMA would get legal representation from the House’s Office of General Counsel before federal court, since President Barack Obama instructed the U.S. Justice Department to cease defending the constitutionality of the law enacted by Congress.

  doma, marriage, obama

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