Nadler to lead charge against Section 3 of DoMA

by on March 26, 2009  •  In Congress, DoMA

Lots of lgbt law types are having lots of conversations about repealing parts of DoMA and extending federal recognition to couples in civil unions. Most of the strategy development centers on Section 3 of DoMA, which directs the federal government to recognize only different-sex marriages for purposes of all federal laws and regulations.

Now The Hill – Congress's own neighborhood rag – is reporting that Rep. Jerry Nadler is prepping a DoMA repeal and modification bill that staffers want to move after hate crimes and ENDA:

Once hate-crimes legislation and ENDA are passed, a measure sponsored by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Reps. Baldwin and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) that would provide domestic partner benefits to federal employees will hit the floor. They hope to introduce the bill next week.

“This is long overdue and I think this is the year to do right by so many lesbian and gay workers with partners,” Ros-Lehtinen told The Hill. “The federal government is the nation’s largest civilian employer, and it’s about time [gays and lesbians] receive these benefits.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) will offer a measure to strike at the heart of the law that hurts the chances of gay marriage the most, though his bill is considered a long shot. Nadler will move to eliminate Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law that defined marriage as the “legal union between one man and one woman.”

Opponents argue this is an attempt to chip away at the controversial law. “Instead of killing the Defense of Marriage Act with a bang, they plan on killing it with a whimper,” said Tom McClusky, vice president for government affairs at the Family Research Council.

Supporters of gay-rights measures are concerned that conservative Democrats will make up a larger bloc of votes than centrist and socially libertarian Republicans who might back the proposals. Baldwin said members of the LGBT caucus have been holding conversations, especially with newer members, and many have been receptive.

“Part of this is generational,” Baldwin said, noting that younger Americans tend to be more accepting of gays and lesbians. “Part of the upside of all these great new members is that many of them are young and they represent their generation’s attitudes.” House leaders support the measures, but Senate Democratic leadership refused to speculate on when they would be brought up.


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