Senate committee passes bill to repeal Defense of Marriage Act
WASHINGTON – The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Nov. 10 to repeal a federal law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
But according to a number of lawmakers, it does not appear the legislation would have enough votes to pass the full Senate or the House if it makes it that far.
The committee, which began debate on the measure Nov. 3, voted 10-8 along party lines to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.
The U.S. bishops had urged the committee not to repeal the legislation, calling it important for human rights and the common good.
“DOMA advances the common good in a manner consistent with the human dignity of all persons,” Bishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of Oakland, Calif., chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, wrote in a Nov. 2 letter to committee members.
DOMA defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman and gives states the authority to reject same-sex marriages that may have been legally recognized in other states.
Called the Respect for Marriage Act, the legislation would end what its supporters consider illegal discrimination against legally married same-sex couples.
However, advocates for traditional marriage said the Senate bill, S. 598, and an identical House bill, H.R. 1116, would open the door to redefining marriage and would eventually force states where same-sex marriage is illegal to recognize such unions. The House Judiciary Committee has not yet taken up consideration of the bill.
The repeal measure would allow legally married same-sex couples to take advantage of the same benefits married heterosexual couples receive under federal law. In was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and is co-sponsored by 29 other Senators. The House companion bill has 129 sponsors.
This past summer, the Obama administration announced it supported legislation to repeal DOMA, which passed with bipartisan support in 1996 and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton.