Senator Patrick Leahy Announces DOMA Repeal Hearing

July 12, 2011, by Melanie Nathan,

Today, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced a hearing on the Respect for Marriage Act, the bill that would overturn DOMA, scheduled for Wednesday July 20th. The hearing will be the first time Congress has heard testimony on legislation that would end federal marriage discrimination against gay and lesbian couples.

Senator Leahy has been a great friend of equality, and notably held the historic hearing for Same Sex green cards, Uniting American Families Act in June 2009. I was invited to the Senators office after the hearing and he spoke of his commitment to fighting for LGBTI equality.

“With thousands of loving and committed couples in New York set to marry this month, now is the perfect time for the Senate to begin the process of repealing the discriminatory so-called Defense of Marriage Act,” said Freedom to Marry National Campaign Director Marc Solomon.  “Until DOMA’s enactment, the federal government had always honored marriages celebrated in the states. It’s time for Congress to end this gay exception and allow legally married same-sex couples access to the tools and security available to all other couples to build a life together and protect their families.”

DOMA prevents married same-sex couples from caring for and taking responsibility for each other by excluding them from the 1,138 federal laws in which marital status is a factor.  As a result, these couples are denied the essential federal safety-net couples pay for with their tax dollars, including: sharing Social Security benefits with a spouse, sponsoring a spouse for a green card or citizenship, filing joint federal tax returns, receiving the protections spouses are entitled to under the federal estate tax, and access to family medical leave.   The Respect for Marriage Act repeals DOMA in its entirety, returning the federal government to a neutral position that respects all couples married according to state law.

“Freedom to Marry will be working closely with Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, lead sponsor Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Senator Richard Blumenthal  and others to advance the Respect for Marriage Act,” said Solomon. Read more …

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