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DOMA: Live-blogging today’s Senate Judiciary Committee vote

DOMA Repeal

By Arisha Michelle Hatch

Updates scroll from the top


11:36 AM EST: Vote happening now. 10 yays, 8 nays (most of the “nays” were by proxy). The Senate Judiciary Committee just voted to repeal DOMA.  It will be considered in the Senate.  (Note from Adam: “We can do this!”)

11:28 AM EST: 5 minutes until a vote; Schumer quotes MLK’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” as a response to those Republicans on the committee who have suggested that now is not the right time. “This ‘wait’ has always almost meant ‘never,” Schumer recalls.

11:24 AM EST: Blumenthal is up and is apparently the last to speak before a vote.  “We are advancing the cause of justice today” he says. (Update) Also, Sen. Grassley decided to withdraw the 3 amendments he circulated for consideration, noting that he didn’t have the votes.

11:20 AM EST:   Sessions starts out by insinuating that Democrats are the reason that the Respect for Marriage Act won’t pass (losing all credibility from the jump) and then continues by worrying that 2 sisters may want to get married (there’s really no point to printing the rest of his dribble).

11:17 AM EST: Sen. Coons states that for those who hear repeated arguments that this bill will go nowhere today, 30 co-sponsors is not nothing.

11:10 AM EST: Franken eloquently states: “The suffering that DOMA causes is very real…DOMA hurts families. Mr. Chairman we need to pass this bill and when we do pass it straight people aren’t going to suddenly turn gay…We’ll be just fine.  ..What will happen is that it will be easier for those people to start and protect their families.”

11:03 AM EST:  Sen. Coburn thinks the freedom to marry is not a priority for people. “Your compassion should be rewarded, your commitment should be rewarded …but now is not the time …because we’re not working on the priorities of the country.”

11:01 AM EST: Sen. Whitehouse: “I have had the privilege of hearing from numerous Rhode Islanders…who are prejudiced needlessly under this law….We owe them better…We should treat [their] commitment with respect…It’s the federalist thing to do.”

10:51 AM EST: Sen. Durbin states that “every generation of senators” gets a chance to strike down some form of discrimination.  He opened by admitting that he was wrong to vote for DOMA. Sen. Cornyn asks Durbin when he expects the bill to come to the floor; Durbin responds that the date is difficult to predict because of so many Republican filibusters.

10:48 AM EST: Sen. Cornyn complains that there’s no point in bringing up bills without floor support.  He stated that he believes that Sen. Reid will never bring this up for a floor vote.

10:42 AM EST:  Sen. Schumer points out that those who discriminate historically have always make the same argument; they say that  “this discrimination is different than previous types of discrimination or they said we shouldn’t do it because a lot of people don’t like it…but those barriers failed,” just as these barriers will fail.  “Repealing DOMA respects states rights to make their own decisions on marriage.”

10:36 AM EST: Republican Sen. Hatch (no known relation to me) informs us of his intention to vote against repeal (surprise, surprise!) and makes a states rights argument.

10:29 AM EST: Adam reports that Sen. Grassley is whining about spending time on bills that may not get floor time, before going on his usual shtick about one man, one woman marriage.  He also takes time to point out that the freedom to marry has nothing to do with Loving v. Virginia.

10:24 AM EST: Feinstein added that DOMA repeal is supported by 60 leading American companies, including Nike, Google, Time Warner.  She urges for a clean vote with no amendments because 130,000 legally married couples deserve rights.

10:21 AM EST: Adam reports that the 10th Dem (Sen. Blumenthal) has arrived.  Sen. Feinstein has just begun addressing the committee now and thanks all 10 Dems on the committee for co-sponsoring the Respect For Marriage Act. “Mr. Chairman, I believe that DOMA is discriminatory,” she begins.

10:16 AM EST: Sens. Schumer, Klobuchar, Coburn and Coons have also arrived (accounting for 9 of the 10 Dems on the committee); only 5 of 8 Republicans are currently present.  The Committee is now voting on judge nominations.

10:12 AM EST: Adam reports that Sens. Durbin and Franken have arrived.  Sen. Leahy opened by discussing the history of marriage and DOMA in Vermont.  Rep. Nadler, a lead House co-sponsor of DOMA repeal, is also present to observe. Votes are expected at noon eastern, so this will likely be a short affair.  You can also follow Adam on twitter @CourageCampaign for more updates.

10:08 AM EST: We’re finally getting started here.  If you’re able, you can watch livestream footage here.

9:56 AM EST: Adam reports that he’s waiting in Hart 216 for DOMA hearing to begin.  Three amendments are expected and he’s already spotted a staff from the Traditional Values Coalition in attendance.

9:15 AM EST: Good morning (bright and early to those of you with me on the Left Coast!) and welcome to our coverage of today’s Senate Judiciary Committee markup and vote on the Respect for Marriage Act to repeal DOMA. For nostalgia, here’s coverage of the press conference with Sen. Feinstein introducing the bill in the Senate, way back on March 16th. A long road to get here, and a first big step to repealing DOMA.

Courage’s Adam Bink will be at the hearing in DC, sending in dispatches and tweeting at @couragecampaign. I’ll be providing live updates here. The hearing commences at 10 AM.

There’s a lot of “so what, this bill won’t go anywhere as long as Boehner and the Republicans control the House!” sentiment whenever these kinds of hearings and votes happen. Adam responded to that in an op-ed published in The Advocate today — an essay that was actually based on a post he wrote here at This stuff does matter. Today we’re going to generate a lot of news, change some hearts and minds, move some polling numbers, and increase pressure on the legislators we’re pushing to support this bill (now at at record 31 in the Senate, a record 133 in the House). That all matters.

More as the hearing begins. Updates will scroll from the top.

27 Comments Leave a Comment

  • 1. Gregory in SLC  |  November 10, 2011 at 6:23 am

    thank you Arisha & Adam : D !

  • 2. AnonyGrl  |  November 10, 2011 at 6:28 am

    Good morning you two! :)

  • 3. Ed Cortes  |  November 10, 2011 at 6:36 am

    Now that I'm done with the morning routines, and have a fresh cuppa coffee to prove it, I'm ready!

  • 4. Ronnie  |  November 10, 2011 at 6:50 am

    Good morning…. subscribing & getting the rest of my morning routine going: I already posted some news etc. on here, I need to make coffee, walk & feed my dog, cook breakfast, get a small work out in, & try to follow the live blogging….. Bring it…. ; ) …Ronnie

  • 5. Gregory in SLC  |  November 10, 2011 at 7:02 am

    while we are waiting…..we are everywhere…these advocate photo essays cause me to smile and weep…and hope for equality soon!

  • 6. Gregory in SLC  |  November 10, 2011 at 7:33 am

    someone please PUNCH Grassley?! SHEESH!

  • 7. Ronnie  |  November 10, 2011 at 7:34 am

    "procreation"…. do a shot…. "I'm morally superior"….. do a shot…. "my religious beliefs & definitions should be forced on everybody"….. do a shot…. of expresso… bouncing off the wall…. maybe slap that guy right across his pathetic elitist face…… > I …Ronnie

  • 8. Gregory in SLC  |  November 10, 2011 at 7:36 am

    SLAP!!!!!!! GGGggrrrr!

  • 9. Ronnie  |  November 10, 2011 at 7:48 am

    Oh so LGBT couples & single LGBT tax payers should be forced to "subsidize" the marriage rights, benefits , & privileges issued by the government, NOT the church, to heterosexual couples?…… Is he out of his fascist mind?…….. Simply put: If LGBT tax payers hard earned money has to be used to "subsidize" heterosexual marriages then they have to do the same for us or DO NOT TAX US!!!!!….. I have a small not-off-the-ground business. My strained thin & hard earned money should not be use to "subsidize" heterosexuals marriages if they are not going to be required to return the gesture. PERIOD. The heterosexist elitists are using us. They want our money but do not want to respect us & treat us equally & fairly…… This is inhuman & anti-American FASCISM!!!!…. > I …Ronnie

  • 10. Mackenzie  |  November 10, 2011 at 7:51 am

    I don't know who is currently speaking, but one of his points was that we have a budget crisis and we can't afford to add more recognized spouses. EXCUSE ME!?! We pay taxes too you misserable piece of crap! That is the worst excuse I have ever heard. We only make up a small fraction of all marriages. And if that is your biggest concern then maybe we should take away benefits for straight couples too.

  • 11. Gregory in SLC  |  November 10, 2011 at 7:51 am

    Logging out of coverage…I can't stand watch/hearing the bigotry, mis-information "why I support DOMA… one pays into social security benefits thinking those $$$ will go to same sex couples" I'll read about it later…getting too "steamed up". Later. xoxo, Gregory

  • 12. Ronnie  |  November 10, 2011 at 7:55 am

    Now this guy is talking about "social security". I'm sorry but did you forget the part where you take money out of the pay checks of LGBT people, who are either single or in a relationship, for social security? That's right. It doesn't matter who anti-gay heterosexuals thought social security benefits would be going too. Since LGBT tax payers are required to have social security taken out of THEIR paychecks then that social security belongs to us as much as it belongs to any heterosexual whether they like it or not or simply put: DON'T TAX US & DON'T TAKE SOCIAL SECURITY OUT OF OUR PAYCHECKS!!!!…… > I …Ronnie

  • 13. DaveUSEricUK  |  November 10, 2011 at 7:55 am

    Sen. Cornyn is a bigot who is a discrace to the United States Senate

    [youtube 2obRp3DKgTs youtube]

  • 14. Ronnie  |  November 10, 2011 at 8:06 am

    " He also takes time to point out that the freedom to marry has nothing to do with Loving v. Virginia."

    Oh really? I'm 100% sure that Mildred Loving (RIP) disagrees & since it is her name being used, what she said trumps what Sen. Greasy….. I mean Grassley says……..

    “I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people’s civil rights…….I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight, seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.” ~ Mildred Loving


  • 15. Steve  |  November 10, 2011 at 8:13 am

    There has been an official government study that estimated that DOMA actually costs money. Couples with two similar incomes will actually pay more taxes for example. Some spending (especially on health insurance) can actually save money in the long run.

  • 16. Steve  |  November 10, 2011 at 8:14 am

    So if marriage is a state's rights issue (which it is in fact), then why is the federal government involved in defining it? And forcing state governments to discriminate or lose federal funding

  • 17. Ray in Sacramento  |  November 10, 2011 at 8:36 am

    Steve you're right. My husband and I live in a community property state and last year IRS tax code was changed where our filing status is single and we have to split our incomes as community property and also our deductions. Tax time is a nightmare for us as far as the fed income tax is concerned. California allows us to file jointly. Also, it costs more to have our tax returns prepared. DOMA has got to go.

  • 18. Ronnie  |  November 10, 2011 at 8:38 am

    Bill is passed….DEAL WITH IT!!!!…. <3…Ronnie

  • 19. Gregory in SLC  |  November 10, 2011 at 8:40 am

    “This ‘wait’ has always almost meant ‘never,” Schumer recalls.

  • 20. chris from CO  |  November 10, 2011 at 8:46 am

    This current congress has a 9% approval rating and after watching the rep. get up and leave during the discussion and being gone during the vote shows why their approval rating is so low they cant stick it out and deal with issues before them.

  • 21. DaveP  |  November 10, 2011 at 8:53 am

    Wow, those 'nay' arguments were the lamest, weakest nonsense we've heard in quite a while. It was as if those guys had never had any prior knowledge of the issues surrounding marriage equality, states rights in general, historical aspects of civil rights in general, etc.

    It's not just that I disagree with their views, they really sounded totally ignorant. As if they don't know enough about these basic concepts to be able to perform their jobs as elected officials.

  • 22. AnonyGrl  |  November 10, 2011 at 9:13 am

    So, what happened with the amendments that were being discussed earlier? Did those go away?

  • 23. DaveP  |  November 10, 2011 at 9:31 am

    ….. especially that Sessions guy near the end. Sheeesh, his comments were so factually incorrect that he sounded like he doesn't even understand what DOMA really is!

  • 24. Gregory in SLC  |  November 10, 2011 at 9:33 am

    Beautiful video/msg Dave…thank you for sharing.

  • 25. Adam Bink  |  November 10, 2011 at 9:46 am

    Grassley decided to withdraw them, seeing he didn't have the votes.

  • 26. Gregory in SLC  |  November 10, 2011 at 10:45 am

    That is good news! Best of all in my opinion! Thanks Anyony for asking…and Adam having the answer. WOOT!

  • 27. karen in kalifornia  |  November 10, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Well I pay over $2200 a year in FEDERAL taxes on the non-wage income value of covering my CA RDP in health benefits. No savings there. Not to mention that I found out with my health bene W2 from last year that I am also paying my employees 50% share of my SS and FCIA tax. Double insult.

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