- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Senate Democrats next week will begin a push to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law that defines marriage for federal purposes and, to date, has meant states don’t have to recognize gay marriages performed in other states.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, said Tuesday his panel will take up the Respect for Marriage Act, sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein and co-sponsored by 30 other senators, all members of the Democratic caucus.

The issue is bound to face strong opposition from Republicans, who would likely have the votes to filibuster the legislation should it reach the Senate floor. And it’s unlikely to make it to the GOP-controlled House at all.

But the measure comes at a time when gay and lesbian advocates are on a roll, having won repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in Congress late last year.

Meanwhile, President Obama’s Justice Department has refused to defend DOMA in court, saying it can no longer vouch for the constitutionality of the law.

That prompted House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, to have Congress hire a lawyer to mount the defense.

DOMA was passed by a Republican-controlled Congress and signed by President Clinton, a Democrat. It was designed to ensure that states that don’t allow gay marriages would not have to recognize ones performed in other states where they are legal.

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