DOMA Repeal Has Enough Votes for Committee Passage

New support for “legislation that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act assures that the necessary votes are in place for a favorable Senate committee vote on the measure as advocates maintain hearings should take place first before advancing the bill,” the Washington Blade reports.

Last week, the Respect [for] Marriage Act, legislation sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that would repeal the 1996 anti-gay law that prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriage, gained two additional co-sponsors: Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Herb Kohl (D-Wis.).

Kohl’s support for the legislation is critical because he’s a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and would have a vote when the roll is called to move the legislation to the floor. Lynn Becker, a Kohl spokesperson, said the senator had previously considered DOMA a state issue.

Meanwhile, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), another member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has also said she’d vote for repeal of DOMA in committee, although she’s stopped short of co-sponsoring the legislation. Last month, the Minnesota Independent reported that the senator would back the Respect for Marriage Act.

In a statement provided to the Washington Blade, Klobuchar confirmed that legislation to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act has her support.

The support from “Kohl and Klobuchar means that the Respect for Marriage Act has at least 10 votes in the Senate Judiciary Committee — enough to advance the bill to the Senate floor.”

Timing of any vote is uncertain:

Despite having the votes in the Senate Judiciary Committee, imminent plans that exist for the Respect for Marriage Act in the panel are unclear. Erica Chabot, a Senate Judiciary Committee spokesperson, said she was unable to communicate with Chair Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) during the congressional recess about his plans.

Advocates working “to advance the legislation say hearings should take place before the bill is sent to the Senate floor to follow regular order and build additional support.”

Even if the bill “is reported to the Senate floor, significant hurdles remain in passing the legislation.”

Ending a filibuster in the Senate requires 60 votes, so at least seven Republicans would have to vote in favor of ending debate on the measure.

More information on Feinstein’s bill here.

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Filed under Committees, Marriage Equality

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