Tuesday, May 03, 2011

DOMA Repeal Could Pass Senate Committee

According to the Washington Blade, repeal of the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act" - formally titled the "Respect for Marriage Act" - has enough votes to pass the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The news comes after Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), both of whom have a seat on the Judiciary Committee, announced their support for the bill; DOMA Repeal now has at least 10 votes in that committee, enough to move the bill to the Senate floor for a full vote.

Act on Principles' public whip count - which is good for feeling out support for a bill but doesn't do a great job of giving exact numbers - shows 20 cosponsors for the "Respect for Marriage Act," and 35 senators "leaning yes."  (I suppose that should now read 22 and 33.)  That means that we may have as many as 55 votes for DOMA Repeal in the Senate, putting us just 5 votes shy of a filibuster-proof majority.

According to the Blade, we need 7 Republicans to support DOMA Repeal in order to pass the legislation; this doesn't fit with Act on Principles' numbers, but the fact remains that we need Republican support for this bill.  Moderate Republicans like Snowe, Collins, Murkowski, and Kirk - all of whom voted to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" last year - are possibilities.

While the bill may pass in the Senate (with a lot of hard work from all in the LGBT community - the kind of work we saw on DADT last year), it is most likely not going to pass in the Republican-controlled House.  However, this does not mean we should not try to get DOMA Repeal passed in the Senate: it would send a message that opponents of marriage equality are in the minority, just like recent polls have shown, and that their days of tyrannical rule over the minority are numbered.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who sponsored the legislation, says she does not know when the bill will come up for a vote, but let's not waste any time: call your senators and tell them to support repeal of the discriminatory "Defense of Marriage Act" - and if they already do, then thank them for their support.

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