Thursday, February 24, 2011

DOMA Repeal to be Introduced in Both Chambers of Congress

Courtesy of the Huffington Post, it appears that the DOJ's announcement yesterday that it will no longer defend Section 3 of the "Defense of Marriage Act" has created some momentum in the favor of gay marriage advocates, with Democrats in both the House and Senate pledging to introduce the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal DOMA.

Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) have both said they will introduce DOMA repeal (which we'll probably keep calling it since RFMA isn't too accessible an acronym) to their respective chambers, although a timetable was not given.

"The president's move [to no longer defend DOMA in court] is another step in the increasing realization that there is no conceivable justification for DOMA, that it is motivated, was motivated, purely by irrational considerations and fear and that there is no rational basis that will stand up to a constitutional challenge," Nadler told the Huffington Post. "Hopefully, that will make it somewhat easier to pass legislation in Congress."

"As a Member of the Judiciary Committee, it is my intention to introduce legislation that will once and for all repeal the Defense of Marriage Act," Feinstein said in a prepared statement. "My own belief is that when two people love each other and enter the contract of marriage, the Federal government should honor that. I opposed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. It was the wrong law then; it is the wrong law now; and it should be repealed."

It is an uphill battle, however, as the House is currently controlled by Republicans and the Senate has only a narrow Democrat majority: in both chambers, bipartisan support will be required (as well as extensive lobbying by the White House, gay rights organizations, and grassroots citizens) to make much legislative progress on repeal.

Last Congress, Act on Principles' public whip count found that DOMA repeal in the House - also introduced by Nadler - had an estimated 189 supports for repeal, about 30 votes shy of a majority.  There was no public whip count for the bill in the Senate.

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