Today, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) announced that his committee, which held a hearing on the Respect for Marriage Act earlier this year, will hold a mark-up session and vote on the bill that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act next month.
In a statement announcing the news, Leahy said, "The march for equality continues, and now is the time to ensure equality for gay and lesbian Americans who are lawfully married."
Of his plans on the bill, he said, "Next month, I will call up the Respect for Marriage Act for debate and a vote in the Judiciary Committee. The Respect for Marriage Act would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which prevents thousands of American families from being protected by laws that help secure other American families. This is part of the nation's continuing fight for civil rights for all Americans."
The bill, which was introduced in March by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), currently has 29 co-sponsors, including Leahy. It currently has no Republican co-sponsors in the Senate.
In a statement, Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese said, "This markup is an incredible step toward ending federal marriage discrimination that causes real harm to American families. Chairman Leahy and Senator Feinstein have been leaders in this fight and we applaud them for continuing the momentum against this unjust law."
Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, said in a statement, "Thousands of loving and committed couples have gotten married in New York and other states since the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on the Respect for Marriage Act in July, and all of them are now enduring direct harms because of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and its double standard. It is time for Congress to repeal DOMA's discrimination, and we are pleased that Senator Leahy is moving the Respect for Marriage Act forward."
The Obama administration supports the Respect for Marriage Act, a point Obama made in his Oct. 1 speech to HRC. When there, he said, "I vowed to keep up the fight against the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. There's a bill to repeal this discriminatory law in Congress, and I want to see that passed. ... I believe the law runs counter to the Constitution, and it’s time for it to end once and for all. It should join 'don't ask, don't tell' in the history books."
The House, controlled by Republicans who are mounting a defense of DOMA in court, are unlikely to take action on the bill in this Congress.