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DOMA: Senate Judiciary Committee markup on Respect for Marriage Act begins today

DOMA Repeal

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.”


  • 1. Ronnie  |  November 3, 2011 at 7:00 am

    Subscribing & sharing……

    Meghan McCain Pushes GOP Candidates To Support Marriage Equality:

    [youtube nEGMjHq4DXI youtube]

  • 2. devon  |  November 3, 2011 at 7:41 am

    Sadly, this hearing will accomplish nothing meaningful. The various DOMA lawsuits are progressing at a glacial pace. There's no sense of urgency about marriage equality outside the gay community.

  • 3. AnonyGrl  |  November 3, 2011 at 7:48 am

    I actually disagree that it will accomplish nothing meaningful. Yes, it will not lead to a repeal of DOMA, but every time this topic is discussed, it engenders discussion across the country, and every time that happens, support for equality grows.

    Even if we don't get anything measurable out of this, the effects of simply discussing it are significant.

  • 4. Adam Bink  |  November 3, 2011 at 8:14 am

    AnonyGrl is right.

  • 5. Sagesse  |  November 3, 2011 at 8:23 am

    This is laying the groundwork for the catalyst event, when it occurs, that moves Congress to repeal DOMA. With DADT, that event was Judge Phillips district court decison and injunction in the LCR case. With DOMA, it could be the military impact on LGBT servicemembers and their families, or immigration inequality, or the embarrassment that is the BLAG defence, or the progress of the several DOMA cases.

  • 6. Gregory in SLC  |  November 3, 2011 at 8:26 am

    I agree…every time topic discussed, more become aware. Examples:

    Out-of-State Gay Marriage Creates Confusion at Florida DMV

    Even Kim Kardashian gives us a opportunity to educate about harmful effects of DOMA ; )

  • 7. Ann S.  |  November 3, 2011 at 8:33 am


  • 8. Gregory in SLC  |  November 3, 2011 at 8:39 am

    Here! Here!

    As I have to decide next week if we are going to spend and extra $500/MONTH for husband insurance for 2012, DOMA weighing heavily on mind …on top of the ever-present personal reasons why crucial for our marriage to recognized.

  • 9. Alan_Eckert  |  November 3, 2011 at 9:21 am

    What is "held over"?

    Also, I would LOVE to see what our team just submitted in the Prop 8 case about Gage Raley's brief.

  • 10. peterplumber  |  November 3, 2011 at 9:26 am

    Regarding the late Amicus Brief filed by Mr. Gage Raley earlier, Ted Olsen has filed this rebuttal letter:
    Dear Ms. Dwyer:
    On behalf of Plaintiffs-Appellees, I write to correct the record concerning the motion to file an untimely amicus brief submitted by Mr. Gage Raley. In his motion, Mr. Raley represents that “[b]oth parties have granted their consent to the filing of this amicus brief.” Mtn. at 2. Mr. Raley is mistaken. Plaintiffs-Appellees have not consented to the filing of Mr. Raley’s untimely brief. Rather, Plaintiffs-Appellees informed Mr. Raley that the parties previously had consented to those amicus briefs that complied with this Court’s rules. Because Mr. Raley’s brief is filed long after the deadline established by the Court for the submission of amicus briefs, it does not comply with the Court’s rules and Plaintiffs-Appellees do not consent to its filing.
    Respectfully submitted,
    /s/ Theodore B. Olson
    Theodore B. Olson
    Attorneys for Plaintiffs-Appellees

  • 11. Brett  |  November 3, 2011 at 9:29 am

    Have you considered discussing with your employer whether or not they might be willing to gross-up your salary to account for the additional imputed income you will be taxed on? The HRC has a few web pages about this concept, and some companies like Google and Cisco are starting to do it. My partner works for Cisco and we are infinitely grateful that they are such responsible corporate citizens that they handle paying the extra $1000+ taxes we would otherwise incur.

    I recently wrote to my employer about whether or not they might be willing to implement such a policy. I'd be happy to share the letter I wrote if it would be useful to you.

  • 12. Adam Bink  |  November 3, 2011 at 9:30 am

    "Held over" means the Republicans force consideration of the bill to be held a week later, at which time votes are expected to be held. They've done this on every committee bill this year because they can.

  • 13. Ronnie  |  November 3, 2011 at 9:33 am

    "it does not comply with the Court’s rules and Plaintiffs-Appellees do not consent to its filing. "…….. BAM!!!!…. I love it…. Thank you Mr. Olson…… : ) …Ronnie

  • 14. Gregory in SLC  |  November 3, 2011 at 9:38 am

    thank you for info. I didn't know about Cisco or Google….

    Bank of America too!

  • 15. Gregory in SLC  |  November 3, 2011 at 9:41 am

    Brett – would appreciate seeing your letter! please email me! gregory dot enke at gmail dot com

  • 16. DaveP  |  November 3, 2011 at 10:11 am

    Hi Devon,
    I know that it can sometimes feel like we're all alone in this fight, but that's really not the case. We have lots of straight allies who are doing tons of work on this, several prominent politicians are fierce allies and have made a big difference, most of us have straight friends and family who definitely DO have a sense of urgency about marriage equality, and there are even lots of folks who are not directly connected to the LGBT community at all who have strong feelings about this.

    Just yesterday morning, during my commute to work, the talk radio station was commenting on the latest kim Kardashian gossip regarding her less-than-three-month-long marriage, and with no prompting, they made the observation that it was ridiculous to deny marriage rights to gays based on some notion of 'protecting the sanctity of marriage'. So other people DO think about this and they DO understand the injustice of this. We're not alone.

  • 17. Ronnie  |  November 3, 2011 at 10:16 am

    This is the hateful, discriminatory, unconstitutional America NOM et al is creating & perpetuating…..

    Gay Chicago Couple Ejected from CTA Bus Over Kiss:

    Christopher Buchanan and his boyfriend Derrell Hughes say they were kicked off a Chicago Transit Authority bus on October 22 for kissing:

    "I was holding his hand and kissing and whatnot," Buchanan told Windy City Times.

    As the bus approached downtown, he said, a middle-aged White woman approached the bus driver to complain about the two. The driver allegedly got up and told Buchanan and Hughes that someone had complained about them and that they needed to get off his bus.

    "He was really in my face," said Buchanan. "He said 'you bitches need to get off the bus…I can't stand f*gs.'"

    When the couple refused to leave, Buchanan said, the driver called police. Buchanan said that while police said they had not done anything illegal, they got off the bus after a two-hour ordeal during which a CTA supervisor was called. Buchanan said he felt the two were targeted because they were two black men kissing in public. He noted that a straight couple was also kissing on the bus at the time of the incident."

    (me) 1-That harridan paid for her seat & her seat only so she needs to mind her own business & STFU…. 2-That ingrate bus driver has NO right talking to passengers in that way. They paid to be on that bus therefore he works for them. PERIOD….. 3-It is not illegal to kiss in public, gay or straight, as is evident by what the officer stated…… 4-You are not allowed to discriminate against anybody on public transportation. Those men most likely pay taxes therefore their hard earned money funds public transportation same as any heterosexual & they are allowed to use it as they are. If some busy-body nosey homophobe has an issue with that, too bad. He/she better DEAL WITH IT!!!…….. 5-A straight couple was doing the same thing so this has nothing to do with the kissing or holding hands, this has everything to do with their orientation…… 5- I'm Happy that they stood up for themselves & that they have obtained legal representation to fight the violation of their civil rights; however, I would not have gotten off the bus. If need be, I would have picked the bus driver up placed him in his seat & said "Sit the f@#k down, buckle your seat belt, keep your eyes on the road & do your job, b!t<h. You're a bus driver so drive the frikin' rig or get another job."……. 6- The Montgomery Bus Boycott was not a rubber stamped isolated event. The anti-gay people that continue to create these examples of unconstitutional discrimination & blindingly obvious bigoted superiority complexes are doing our job for us……. Just saying…….<3…Ronnie

  • 18. Alan_Eckert  |  November 3, 2011 at 10:18 am

    BREAKING: 133 members of the House submitted an amicus brief against DOMA today:

  • 19. Alan_Eckert  |  November 3, 2011 at 10:25 am

    Yet another former ex-gay leader has come out. This time in Brazil.

  • 20. Alan_Eckert  |  November 3, 2011 at 10:39 am

    They even cite NOM on page 7.

  • 21. Alan_Eckert  |  November 3, 2011 at 10:47 am

    This brief is worth the read! Short but succinct.

  • 22. peterplumber  |  November 3, 2011 at 10:49 am

    And the court denies the request for the brief:

    Filed order (STEPHEN R. REINHARDT, MICHAEL DALY HAWKINS and N. RANDY SMITH) Gage Raley’s motion to file an amicus curiae brief out of time is denied. [7952837] (KKW)

  • 23. _BK_  |  November 3, 2011 at 10:55 am


  • 24. _BK_  |  November 3, 2011 at 10:56 am

    Behavior is undoubtedly changeable… orientation, on the other hand, I think not.

    I wish people could get that through their thick skulls.

    Congrats to the man for being true to himself.

  • 25. Brett  |  November 3, 2011 at 11:50 am


  • 26. Lora  |  November 3, 2011 at 11:51 am

    I would also appreciate seeing your letter. I've been paying 1,000's extra for years.

  • 27. Steve  |  November 3, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Many of those "ex-gays" meetings are little more than dating events for the closet cases. I've read stories of undercover reporters who were repeatedly hit on

  • 28. Alan_Eckert  |  November 3, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Reminds me of that Will and Grace where Jack meets Neil Patrick Harris's character at an ex-gay meeting.

  • 29. Gregory in SLC  |  November 3, 2011 at 1:16 pm


  • 30. Gregory in SLC  |  November 3, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    Sorry to hear it Lora : ( Hope we all have equality soon! Love, Gregory

  • 31. Ronnie  |  November 3, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    Hey what do you know, more evidence of the hateful, unconstitutional, & dangerous America NOM et al is creating & perpetuating…….

    Gay high school student says he was suspended for wearing make-up:

    &… Second School Beating in Ohio; Felony Charged in the First:

    "A freshman at Westerville South High School was called “f*g” and “fa**ot” while being beaten up, and was then left with a concussion, according to an account of the fight from his mother. The student does not identify as gay but has a lesbian sister, and that's made him the target of bullying for four years, the mother says.

    &…. UPDATED: Police investigating attack on gay men as hate crime:

    LONG BEACH — Long Beach police are continuing to investigate as a hate a crime a brutal attack Halloween night on two gay men, officials said.

    Two Long Beach men, a 19-year-old and 27-year-old, have been arrested and booked for assault with a deadly weapon in the attack, which violent crimes detectives are investigating as a hate crime, said Long Beach Police Department spokeswoman Nancy Pratt.

    &….Racist, homophobic messages found on frat lounge doors at Wake:

    (me) But you know, It is the prop H8 witnesses etc etc etc who are in some sort of "danger'" & are "victims"<–B..U..L..L..SHITE!!!….. NO H8!! EQUALITY NOW!!!….. XI…Ronnie

  • 32. Rick S.  |  November 4, 2011 at 3:37 am

    let's debate kykes, niggers, and wetbacks' rights first – who the fuck cares about a couple of faggots and their pile of santorum !

  • 33. DaveP  |  November 4, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    Awesome episode.

    "The secret is chopped scallions! Ssshh!"

    I almost spit diet Pepsi outta my nose.

  • 34. Adam Bink  |  November 4, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    Inexcusable. Don't come back.

  • 35. Yvette Heiden  |  January 14, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    I loved your article post.Thanks Again.

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