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Senate committee approves DOMA repeal

Sen. Patrick Lehay

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday (November 10) voted to recommend passage of a bill to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

The bill is the Respect for Marriage Act (S. 598). Thursday’s 10 to 8 vote along partisan lines had been originally scheduled for November 3 but was postponed a week at the request of Republicans on the committee.

Republican Charles Grassley criticized Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy for putting the bill on the committee’s agenda, saying the committee should, instead, be taking up “bills that can pass” and which address the country’s financial problems. Grassley said S. 598 “lacks the votes to pass the Senate” and that, even if it does pass the Senate, “it will not be taken up in the House,” which is controlled by Republicans.

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White House responds to DOMA petition

President Obama's administration announced it would no longer defend DOMA in court

The White House responded this week to an online petition calling for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law that prevents the federal government from recognizing same-sex unions.

The "We the People" petitions, an initiative created by the White House, offer citizens a chance to call on President Obama and his administration to act on a range of issues from social and domestic to foreign policy and the economy.

One of the most signed petitions called for the repeal of DOMA, which included some 14,000 signatures.

Here is the official response from Gautam Raghavan, from the White House Office of Public Engagement:

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SLDN sues government over Defense of Marriage Act

Now that gays and lesbians can serve openly in the United States military, the next step in the legal battle is to secure the same partner benefits for married same-sex couples that heterosexual couples enjoy.

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network today filed a federal lawsuit against Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki on behalf of eight former and current active duty soldiers over the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 law which prevents the government from recognizing same-sex marriages, even those performed legally in jurisdictions that allow them.

“The plaintiffs, each legally married, want the armed services to recognize their families and seek the same family support and benefits for their same-sex spouses that the services and Department of Veterans Affairs provide to opposite-sex spouses,” SLDN said today via a media release.

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[Video] Sen. Al Franken makes people chuckle during DOMA hearings

U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) made a career of making people laugh when he was a writer and actor on "Saturday Night Live." He also made some of us laugh and think with his books, including, "Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations."

In 2008, he won a seat in the U.S. Senate and is now on the Senate Judiciary Committee where members are taking up the Defense of Marriage Act and the new pro-gay bill, the Respect for Marriage Act.

Watch below as Franken crushes Tom Minnery,  the executive director of CitizenLink, a public policy division of that not-so-funny and very anti-gay Focus on the Family, during the hearings on July 20. Minnery cites a federal study that he says straight couples are the best kinds of parents. Well, Franken said he actually read the study.

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Rep. John Lewis testifies for pro-gay Respect for Marriage Act

Ga. Rep. John Lewis supports Respect for Marriage Act

The Senate Judiciary Committee held the first-ever hearing today on the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill that if passed would repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act and allow the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages.

The Respect for Marriage Act was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and in the House of Representatives by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY).

Today's hearing included testimony from gay marriage supporters, those negatively affected by the current law and advocates urging the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act.

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White House: President Obama supports bill to repeal DOMA

President Barack Obama supports DOMA repeal efforts

White House spokesperson Jay Carney told reporters during a White House briefing on July 19 that President Obama supports the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.

The 1996 law defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman. Carney said that the president was “proud” to support the repeal effort. Obama has stated his desire to see that law repealed in the past but had not yet publicly endorsed the Respect for Marriage Act, according to DC-based LGBT news outlet MetroWeekly.

The bill, introduced in the Senate by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), would repeal DOMA and allow the federal government to provide benefits to couples in same-sex marriages. The first hearing on the Respect for Marriage Act will take place tomorrow.

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Democrats reintroduce ‘Respect for Marriage Act’ to repeal gay marriage ban

Speaker of the House John Boehner

In the continuing wake of President Barack Obama's announcement that the Department of Justice would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act in federal court, Democrats have begun the process to repeal the 1996 ban on federal recognition of same-sex marriage by reintroducing the “Respect for Marriage Act.”

The bill, originally introduced in 2009, would legislatively repeal DOMA. Sponsored by more than 100 representatives, including all four openly gay members of Congress, the bill faces an uphill battle to move out of the Republican-controlled House.

"DOMA now is viewed with deep skepticism from all sides,” said Lambda Legal National Marriage Project Director Jennifer C. Pizer in a released statement. “When members of Congress wrote this discrimination into law in 1996, they made a theoretical pronouncement, prompted both by popular anxiety at the thought that same-sex couples might start marrying, and by the personal and religious views of some about family life. But the days of theorizing are behind us.”