November 3, 2011
By Adam Bink
Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee will begin the markup process on the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. All 10 committee Democrats publicly pledge support for the bill, though it’s not clear what amendments will be offered and whether that calculus could be changed.
Republicans are expected to exercise their prerogative to hold over the bill one week, which they have done on every committee bill this year. That means that today’s meeting will likely be about other business and Senators will make only brief remarks on the Respect for Marriage Act. Actual votes, including amendments if offered, are therefore expected to take place on Thursday, November 10th. Sen. Grassley, the ranking Republican, is expected to offer an amendment to strike Section 2 of the bill, which provides for the ability to retain federal rights for same-sex married couples no matter which state they reside in. There may be other amendments introduced shortly before the 10th. In short, no fireworks expected today, though I’ll update if that changes. Courage Campaign and our members are working with our allies in and outside of the Senate to ensure anti-LGBT amendments are not adopted by the committee and that we have a successful vote on the overall bill.
Whenever the vote happens, it will make headlines around the nation and serve as a chance to again move people’s hearts and mind on this issue, as well as educate the public, so the committee consideration should not be dismissed as a non-starter simply because we are short on the votes in the full Senate. As I wrote in this essay, we have a long way to go and every moment builds a majority for DOMA repeal.
I’ll update the post as news comes in on the markup. More coverage from Chris at the Washington Blade can be found here.
Update: As expected, the bill was held over by a week by the Republicans (as is their prerogative), meaning it will be considered on November 10th. An update from Metro Weekly:
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the lead sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act, opened her comments at the hearing by saying, “I voted against [DOMA] for the same reason then, that I [support] repeal now.
“Just three months ago, this committee heard” testimony on the impact of DOMA, she said, referencing the earlier hearing.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) says, referencing Alexis de Tocqueville’s discussion of America’s march toward full equality, made the brief comment, “That march continues.”