Hours after today’s announcement that Obama’s Dept of Justice would no longer be defending the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act, California Senator Dianne Feinstein announced plans to introduce a bill that would repeal DOMA once and for all.
“My own belief is that when two people love each other and enter the contract of marriage, the federal government should honor that,” she said. “I opposed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. It was the wrong law then; it is the wrong law now, and it should be repealed.”
This could potentially move things forward with respect to states currently recognizing equality for all citizens. There are currently several cases in the courts where equality states are representing citizens who are not equally represented by the federal government. While same-sex couples legally married in one of the five states which currently recognize marriage equality (or the District of Columbia) benefit from state privileges, there are still more than 1100 federal rights and responsibilities denied same-sex couples because of DOMA.
This effort would mirror previous efforts by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (NY), Rep. Tammy Baldwin (WI) and Rep. Jared Polis (CO) who, in 2009, introduced the Respect for Marriage Act (which had 91 original co-sponsors in 2009).
While the repeal of a discriminatory policy such as Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, (which banned openly gay and lesbian servicemembers) benefited from widespread popular support, the pursuit of a repeal of DOMA takes a larger leap of faith for political leaders. Let’s hope other legislators join Feinstein in her progressive move in the interest of equality.