Category Archives: Marriage Equality

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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Senators Unveil Effort to Repeal DOMA

A group of Democratic Senators have introduced legislation today that would “repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA),” according to a press release.

The Respect for Marriage Act would “restore the rights of all lawfully married couples – including tens of thousands of same-sex couples – to receive the benefits of marriage under federal law.”

Supporters:

Joining Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) are co-sponsors:  Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), John Kerry (D-Mass.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Dan Inouye (D-Hawaii), and Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii).

Bill text is linked here.

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Feinstein Will Offer Legislation to Repeal Defense of Marriage Act

President Obama, in a “major legal policy shift, has directed the Justice Department to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act — the 1996 law that bars federal recognition of same-sex marriages — against lawsuits challenging it as unconstitutional,” the New York Times reports.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. sent a letter to Congress on Wednesday saying that the Justice Department will now take the position in court that the act should be struck down as a violation of same-sex couples’ rights to equal protection under the law.

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) issued a statement today indicating that it is her “intention to introduce legislation that will once and for all repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.”

“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.”

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Florida Senate: Crist Silent on Possible Caucus Preference

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Florida Governor Charlie Crist (I) “on Sunday again declined to reveal which political party he would caucus with if he wins the state’s three-way Senate race this November, while also clarifying his position on the new health care overhaul and his opposition to same-sex marriage,” Congressional Quarterly reports.

A Republican until just a few months ago, Crist continued to insist that he would “caucus with the people of Florida” during an interview Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” But the governor’s shifts on key policies since leaving the GOP could indicate an intention to pursue Florida’s Democratic vote and to join forces with the Democrats should he defeat former Florida Speaker Marco Rubio (R) and Rep. Kendrick B. Meek (D) this fall.

“No. 1, this is a moot question unless I win, so I’ve got to work very hard to make sure I achieve the trust and support of my fellow Floridians to continue to be a public servant for them,” Crist said. “I think they know the way I’m going to go: I’m going to go the way that’s best for them, and I sincerely mean that — and that’s very important. I don’t have to say whether I’m going to caucus with the Democrats or Republicans.

“I think the important thing, if I have the honor of winning, is asking tough questions,” Crist continued. “We’ll make a decision thereafter.”

Other topics:

In recent days, Crist has come under fire for appearing to flip-flop on his position on the new health care law. Before exiting the Republican primary this year, the governor said he would have voted against it if he were a Senator. This past week, he said he would have voted for it, but then he quickly reversed himself.

On Sunday, he maintained he would have opposed the overhaul but said he now wants to work to “fix” it.

“Parts of it I do support, and there are parts of it I take issue with,” Crist said. “That’s the duty of being an Independent candidate. Had I been there, I would have voted against it. If I get elected, I’d like the opportunity to help fix. Only an Independent can look at this one bill and find parts of it that are good and parts of it that are bad. In many ways I feel like an umpire calling balls and strikes.”

Meanwhile, despite describing himself as a “live-and-let-live kind of guy,” Crist said he remains opposed to same-sex marriage.

(credit image – daylife/getty)

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Schumer Wants Marriage Equality in Every State

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is setting a high standard for success when it comes to marriage equality.  The key quote, per Ben Smith:

"If Dick Cheney can support marriage, so can every Senator. So can every Democrat, Republican, Liberal Conservative," Schumer told the Empire State Pride Agenda. "Equality should know no bounds, and we must not rest until we have marriage in all fifty of these United States."

Video:

(credit image – associated press)

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Specter Seeks Repeal of Defense of Marriage Act

Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA) is calling for a repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  He made his case in a piece at the Huffington Post

Here’s a brief excerpt:

The time has come to repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Enacted 13 years ago when the idea of same sex marriage was struggling for acceptance, the Act is a relic of a more tradition-bound time and culture.

Connecticut, Iowa, and Massachusetts have already passed laws recognizing same sex marriage and other states are moving in that direction. The states are the proper forum to address this divisive social and moral issue, not the Federal Government with a law that attempts to set one national standard for marriage.

(credit image – associated press)

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Dodd Announces Support for Same-Sex Marriage

In an op-ed posted on Senator Chris Dodd’s (D-CT) website, he has announced his support for same-sex marriage after previously only being in favor of civil unions.

An excerpt:

I believe that, when my daughters grow up, barriers to marriage equality for same-sex couples will seem as archaic, and as unfair, as the laws we once had against inter-racial marriage.

And I want them to know that, even if he was a little late, their dad came down on the right side of history.

I have always been proud of my long record fighting for the civil rights of the LGBT community. I’ve co-sponsored legislation to strengthen hate crime laws and end discrimination in the workplace. I’ve spoken out against “don’t ask, don’t tell” and always supported equal rights for domestic partnerships.

But I am also proud to now count myself among the many elected officials, advocates, and ordinary citizens who support full marriage equality for same-sex couples.

Senator Dodd is up for re-election in 2010.

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