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Sen. Feinstein discusses Prop 8, efforts to repeal DOMA

DOMA Repeal

By Adam Bink

In an interview with P8TT friend Karen Ocamb, Sen. Feinstein discusses efforts to repeal DOMA, including our partnership with her to bring more co-sponsors onboard. Key excerpts on DOMA:

During a 12-minute phone interview on May 26, Frontiers asked Feinstein about the status of the DOMA repeal bill.

“It’s in the Judiciary Committee. We hope to have a hearing before long. We’re working with the community on securing votes. We have 24 co-sponsors now and I’d like to get as many as possible, which strengthens the possibilities for passage,” Feinstein said. “The Courage Campaign is reaching out. They have organized campaigns of phoning in several states, as I understand it. I’m not making phone calls.”

Given the opportunity to speak directly to people about DOMA, Feinstein said she would tell them, “Issues of family and marriage are virtually all done by state law, not federal law. The Defense of Marriage Act, known as DOMA, essentially said, OK, even if a state says you can go ahead with a same-sex marriage, those individuals cannot have any of the federal benefits. And the list of federal benefits [include] joint federal income taxes, certain deductions, spousal benefits under Social Security, unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act if a loved one falls ill and the protections of the estate tax when one spouse passes and wants to leave his or her possessions to another. Those are federal laws that are essentially cancelled under DOMA.

“So if you strike DOMA,” she continued, “these basic rights come back to individuals whose states have passed laws legalizing same-sex marriage. I think people have to know that. We’re not giving anybody anything special that any other married couple doesn’t get. But what we are doing is taking out a prohibition.”


Frontiers spoke with Courage Campaign founder Rick Jacobs, who talked about his meeting with Feinstein—another surprise since the Courage Campaign has disagreed with the senator on a number of progressive issues. “She looked me in the eye and said, ‘I want to repeal DOMA,’ and I believe her,” Jacobs said. The two shook hands on a partnership where Courage is using all its resources and intellect to help Feinstein get more co-sponsors and get to the 60 votes needed in the Senate to pass the DOMA repeal bill. Jacobs said they now have 77 volunteers in 43 states working with local organizers. And their aggressive Facebook campaign continues to move senators who are overwhelmed with Facebook messages from constituents. (See their Facebook campaign here.)

On Prop 8:

On Prop. 8, Feinstein said that “at this stage,” she has no opinion on whether the LGBT community should return to the ballot in 2012 to repeal Prop 8.

“No one’s presented that to me as an option. I think it has to be carefully evaluated and looked at. I have no doubt that as time goes on, people’s views are changing,” Feinstein said, adding “I think the situation is moving in a very positive direction.”

More, including Karen’s history of Sen. Feinstein’s relationship with the LGBT community and her efforts on Prop 8 in 2008, can be found here at Karen’s magazine, Frontiers.


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