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DOMA Repeal Scheduled for First Ever Hearing

July 15, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

For the first time ever, a committee in Congress will hold a hearing on repealing the Clinton-era Defense of Marriage Act and requiring states to recognize all marriages that are considered valid in the state where the marriage was conducted.

The bill in question, entitled the “Respect for Marriage Act,” is scheduled for a July 20 hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Here’s the bill:

Sec. 7. Marriage

‘(a) For the purposes of any Federal law in which marital status is a factor, an individual shall be considered married if that individual’s marriage is valid in the State where the marriage was entered into or, in the case of a marriage entered into outside any State, if the marriage is valid in the place where entered into and the marriage could have been entered into in a State.

‘(b) In this section, the term ‘State’ means a State, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or any other territory or possession of the United States.’

Likelihood of the bill becoming law this session is basically zero percent. It’s hard to imagine it overcome a filibuster in the Senate and the Republican-dominated House definitely isn’t going to take it up. The skeptic in me wants to say that the only real effect of this hearing will be to help Democrats shore up votes from the gay-rights community. On the other hand, as the marriage equality movement continues to grow and more states recognize same-sex marriage, it makes sense for Congress to look at the issues involved in DOMA again. In that way, the hearing is progress, even if it doesn’t increase likelihood of the current bill becoming law.

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