Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) announced today, October 14, that he is pushing ahead with steps to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act by holding a markup on the Respect for Marriage Act (a.k.a. the DOMA repeal bill). Joe Solmonese, Human Rights Campaign President, applauds Leahy for his perseverance against the discriminatory act. “This markup is an incredible step toward ending federal marriage discrimination that causes real harm to American families,” he says, “Chairman Leahy and Senator [Dianne] Feinstein have been leaders in this fight and we applaud them for continuing the momentum against this unjust law.”
Today’s development is a hopeful first step in the long sought process toward DOMA repeal. There is a stir of excitement within our hearts when we see that the Judiciary Committee is actually following through on the promise they made to pursue this issue—without letting Congressional gridlock get in the way.
DOMA, which denies married same-sex couples benefits opposite-sex married couples enjoy, is a blatantly discriminatory policy. Among the services same-sex couples miss out on are social security survivor benefits, federal employee health benefits for spouses, protections against spouses losing their homes in cases of severe medical emergencies, the right to sponsor a foreign born partner for immigration, the guarantee of family and medical leave and the ability to file joint tax returns.
According to a March 2011 poll by HRC and Greenberg Quilan Rosner Research, 51 percent of voters oppose DOMA while only 34 percent favor it. Actions like the one taken by Sen. Leahy today leave us optimistic for the sooner-than-later repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act.