The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a measure to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act last week. It was a party-line vote in favor of sending a bill called The Respect for Marriage Act to the Senate and House. Ten Democrats voted for it; eight Republicans against it. The bill would repeal DOMA, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman, and therefore prohibits same-sex couples from claiming marriage entitlements like Social Security.
Connecticut's state officials were a part of that.
Signing a letter urging the committee to get the ball rolling on repeal were Gov. Dan Malloy and Mayors John DeStefano (New Haven), Bill Finch (Bridgeport) and Pedro E. Segarra (Hartford) along with 15 other state and local officials from around the country. The letter was organized by Human Rights Campaign, a national civil liberties organization. Read the letter here.
DOMA was passed pretty much without opposition in the 1990s and signed into law by a Democratic president. But that was when no state in the union allowed same-sex marriage. A decade and a half later, six states have legalized it, including Connecticut and most of New England. DOMA has become a lightening rod for progressives and champions of marriage equality, because it bars legally married couples from evoking rights taken for granted by heterosexuals.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, of Connecticut, noted the numerous court challenges pending and told NPR that repeal of DOMA was inevitable: "The only question is, really, which will happen first: action by the courts or action by the Congress to repeal and reject DOMA," he said last Thursday.
While Republicans aren't staking a lot in opposing the new bill (not now anyway), they aren't caving in either. Sen. Charles Grassley, of Iowa, told NPR that the bill was dead on arrival to the House, which is controlled by the GOP, and doesn't have the votes in the full Senate either: "Even if it somehow managed to pass the Senate, it would not be taken up in the House," he said.