Monday, September 14, 2009

Nadler to Introduce DOMA Repeal Tuesday

(From The Washington Blade)

"Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) intends Tuesday to submit legislation that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and answer questions at a Capitol Hill press conference. The event is set for 11 a.m. at the House Triangle, near the southern steps of the Capitol Building.

Nadler first told the Bay Area Reporter that he intended to introduce a repeal bill and that the legislation would only affect same-sex marriages — not civil unions or domestic partnerships.

A "certainty provision" in the bill, Nadler said, would allow gay couples living in a state where marriage is not recognized to go to another state to marry and qualify for federal benefits when they return home.

Nadler chairs the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights & Civil Liberties, which has jurisdiction over DOMA.

Gay Reps. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.) will co-sponsor the legislation, but Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) hasn't signed on in support.

Frank said in an interview Friday with the Blade that he's not a co-sponsor of the legislation because he has a "strategic difference" with people supporting the repeal legislation.

"It's not anything that's achievable in the near term," he said. "I think getting [the Employment Non-Discrimination Act], a repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' and full domestic partner benefits for federal employees will take up all of what we can do and maybe more in this Congress."

Frank also said that advocacy for the "certainty provision," as described by Nadler, would create "political problems" in Congress.

"The provision that says you can take your benefits as you travel, I think, will stir up unnecessary opposition with regard to the question of are you trying to export it to other states," he said. "If we had a chance to pass that, it would be a different story, but I don't think it's a good idea to rekindle that debate when there's no chance of passage in the near term."

Nadler defended the legislation in a statement, saying that claims made by repeal opponents shouldn't prevent the bill's introduction.

"Mr. Frank knows better than anyone that our opponents will falsely claim that any DOMA repeal bill 'exports marriage' in an effort to generate fear and misunderstanding," Nadler said. "But the dishonest tactics of our opponents should not stop us from aggressively pushing to end this horrific discrimination now, as is the consensus of the nation's top LGBT groups who all support this approach."

Nadler emphasized that the proposed bill wouldn't force any state to marry gay couples or recognize same-sex couples under state law.

"Our bill allows states to continue deciding those questions, while ensuring uniform access to critically important federal responsibilities and rights that hinge on marriage and upon which all married couples should be able to rely," he said."

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