Friday, February 25, 2011

Too Little, Too Late: House and Senate Dems push for DOMA repeal

On the heals of this week's historic announcement by Attorney General Eric Holder that the Obama administration believes the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional and will no longer defend it in court, House and Senate Democrats are scrambling to gather sponsors to reintroduce the Respect For Marriage Act.

The legislation was drafted and introduced by Congressman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) in 2009 and 2010, but was allowed to die in committee due to lack of support while congress addressed the economic stimulus package and botched health care reform effort.

The Huffington Post reports:
The idea is to take advantage of the headwind created by the Department of Justice's Wednesday announcement and push for a permanent solution over the legality of laws that prohibit gay marriage. Until Congress acts, or the Supreme Court issues a ruling, DOMA -- which prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriages performed in states -- continues to be enforced.

"The president's move 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," said Nadler. "Hopefully, that will make it somewhat easier to pass legislation in Congress."

But the climb remains steep. House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) criticized the administration's decision not to defend DOMA in a statement shortly after the announcement was made, calling it "irresponsible." And as chair of the committee, Smith has wide latitude over what bills get a hearing.
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), whose district includes San Francisco, announced that she will introduce a senate version of the bill, telling HuffPo, "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 It was the wrong law then; it is the wrong law now; and it should be repealed."

Is anyone else angry that this didn't happen last year or the year before, when DOMA repeal actually had a snowball's chance in Hell of passing? The White House acknowledges that they put this off until after the elections, so it wouldn't be a campaign issue.

Feinstein, who served on the San Francisco board of Supervisors with Harvey Milk is all over this now that it's politically safe and the Republican-controlled House will see to it that repeal doesn't happen.

I hate to be Debbie Downer, but our best chance of getting rid of DOMA is still through the courts.

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