Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on Thursday announced that, in the coming weeks, the Committee will hold the first congressional hearing on proposals to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
Earlier this year, Leahy joined with Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and others to introduce the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill that would repeal DOMA and restore the rights of all lawfully married couples, including same-sex couples, to receive the benefits of marriage under federal law.
The hearing will mark the first ever hearing on the issue of repealing DOMA since its enactment nearly 15 years ago.
The hearing will be entitled “S.598, The Respect for Marriage Act: Assessing the Impact of DOMA on American Families,” and is expected to be held in the coming weeks. The hearing will be webcast live online.
The Defense of Marriage Act prohibits the federal government from recognizing legally married same-sex couples.
DOMA, enacted in 1996, prevents any of the over 1,100 federal rights, benefits and responsibilities of marriage from being afforded to legally married same-sex couples.
Those benefits include Social Security survivor benefits, federal employee health benefits for spouses, protections against spouses losing their homes in cases of severe medical emergencies, the right to sponsor a foreign born partner for immigration, the guarantee of family and medical leave and the ability to file joint tax returns, among many others.