DOMA | News | Richard Socarides

Nadler, Pelosi and 132 House Democrats File Amicus Against DOMA as Mark-Up to Repeal Bill is Pushed


Mark-up of the Respect for Marriage Act has been pushed to 10 am on November 10, following some discussion of the measure in the Senate Judiciary Committee today, MetroWeekly reports:

In opening the hearing, Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said of the Respect for Marriage Act's aim, in part, "What would change, and what must change, is the federal government's unequal treatment of state-approved marriages."

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the lead sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act, opened her comments at the hearing by saying, "I voted against [DOMA] for the same reason then, that I [support] repeal now.

Watch today's DOMA hearing (via Think Progress) in full, AFTER THE JUMP...

The scheduling move was procedural, and somewhat expected.


A short time later, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tweeted, "Update on fighting #DOMA: Me + 132 House Dems just filed an amicus against this discriminatory law." with a link to an amicus brief filed in the Gill v. OPM and Massachusetts v. HHS cases by the lawmakers.

Here's the brief (PDA). It begins:

Some amici voted against the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”), Pub. L. No. 104-199, 110 Stat. 2419 (Sept. 21, 1996), while others voted for it; still others were not in Congress when DOMA was enacted. But all believe, today, that Section 3 of DOMA, which defines marriage for all feder- al purposes as “only a legal union between one man and one woman,” lacks a rational relationship to any legitimate federal purpose and accordingly is unconstitutional.

Having concluded that Section 3 fails to fulfill the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment, amici wish to share their unique perspective on why this is so. Amici also wish to make clear that the Bi- partisan Legal Advisory Group (“BLAG”), which has intervened in this case to defend Section 3’s constitutionality, does not speak for a unanim- ous House on this issue. While Speaker Boehner has the authority to di- rect the defense of DOMA by virtue of the divided 3-2 vote of the BLAG, many Members believe that Section 3 of DOMA violates the Constitution and should be struck down.

Yesterday on CNN, Equality Matters President Richard Socarides talked about where we stand on efforts to repeal DOMA and what its chances are in the future.

Watch Socarides and the DOMA hearing, AFTER THE JUMP...


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  1. Not to quibble, but Pelosi hasn't been Speaker for some time now.

    Posted by: gaylib | Nov 3, 2011 1:29:09 PM

  2. *Former* House Speaker, or House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi.

    Posted by: Greg | Nov 3, 2011 2:22:02 PM

  3. HELLO???? They couldn't do this when there were clear majorities in both houses????

    This is nothing more than empty posturing and pandering to the LGBT community whose support and dollars are desired as we approach the 2012 elections.

    I'm not moved.


    Posted by: Perry | Nov 3, 2011 3:48:39 PM

  4. @Perry

    Even 2 years ago when Dems had majorities, there was not as much support for LGBT issues as there is today. Support has grown by leaps and bounds lately. And, now they even have the cover of court decisions that have called DOMA unconstitutional. Politicians seldom lead, they follow when they feel it is safe to do so.

    Posted by: Tim NC | Nov 3, 2011 4:06:37 PM

  5. Actually, it is more than empty posturing and pandering--frankly, we're not that important as a voting block (unless we falsely flatter ourselves) for the Democrats to step up to the plate for that reason. Is it perfect timing given the number of Republicans in Congress? No. But this marks an important cultural shift, one that brings more people on board so that the foundation supporting DOMA will continue to crumble. My Senator, Sen. Leahy, has been more and more outspoken about repealing DOMA (and he voted for it!), and, as a shoo-in in VT, he doesn't need to pander for votes or money.

    Dismissing support is not constructive. Praising support and continuing to demand more action is constructive.

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  7. It's fine to be critical, but at least be informed. The Democrats couldn't pass a DOMA repeal two years ago when they were in the majority, and they still can't now. Nothing has changed. There were never 60 votes in the Senate, and there was never a majority in the House.

    That doesn't mean you stop supporting good progressive Democrats like Pelosi and the signatories on the amicus brief--it just means you need more of them!

    Blame them for failing to pass bills they actually might have passed if they'd tried, like ENDA. DOMA will die in the Courts in the next two years, but we need ENDA to be passed into law.

    Posted by: John | Nov 4, 2011 2:27:21 AM

  8. Thank you President Clinton, for signing DOMA into law, all the dems who voted for it, and especially Bob Dole and all the Republicans who started this to begin with.

    Posted by: h | Nov 4, 2011 4:42:52 AM

  9. TIM NC

    You write: "Even 2 years ago when Dems had majorities, there was not as much support for LGBT issues as there is today. Support has grown by leaps and bounds lately."

    Where exactly is your evidence for this? Your personal interactions? Don't make me laugh. You sound like the pollsters whose numbers were telling them that Sharron Angle was going to beat Harry Reid in the Senate race in Nevada last year (yea I know it's been a year and the average person's memory never goes back that far).

    Often what gets mistaken for support of gay rights issues is nothing more than lukewarm posturing for purposes of being politically correct. This is The Stupid United States of America, where we have popular referenda. So the only true measure of support is what happens in the privacy of the ballot box. That's where the latent anti-gay animus harbored by most people usually shows its full colors.

    Politicians seldom lead, I'll give you that much. But then true leaders don't hide behind the tide of public opinion. A true leader has the balls to say and do the right thing when it's not popular. So if the democrats in congress are not doing the right thing, they're not leaders, they're political opportunists.

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