Thursday, December 10, 2009

No Action on DOMA Repeal Until 2013

CORRECTION: No real action until 2013! "...lawmakers ... could take up legislation to repeal DOMA — known as the Respect for Marriage Act — at the end of the two-year session starting in 2011."

U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler introduced the Respect for Marriage Act (RMA) in September, and if it passes, it will effectively repeal the heinous 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a piece of knee-jerk legislation from Congress fearing that the near success of marriage equality in Hawaii at the time would spread through the nation like some plague.

Don't get me started.

However, up to this point, we haven't had much of a time line for RMA. Last month, Nadler spokesperson John Doty said, "I think there’s three or four gay rights bills that are cued up. The Respect for Marriage Act is a little bit further down that list. It hasn’t been talked about as long or debated as long … as the other bills."

Rep. Barney Frank agreed. "...marriage is the toughest of these issues. That’s why I do not see any chance of any success on marriage in the Congress this year. Neither does anyone else, by the way, no matter what people pretend to make people feel better. But that’s why we’re focusing on these other issues."

Today, the DC Agenda has posted its interview with Nadler and he talks timing. Nadler says a DOMA repeal won't happen in this Congress and instead he will focus on building support for the issue and then take it up in 2011 after elections, and maybe then not until the end of that term. In the meantime, they will focus on other pro-LGBT legislation taking precedence, such as ENDA and DADT repeal, which they hope to accomplish by the end of 2010.

“The Respect for Marriage Act is a bill that we can’t pass right now; we know we can’t pass it right now,” he said. Currently, it has 105 co-sponsors.

Nadler told the DC Agenda that he believes support will grow, and despite not showing too much enthusiasm to the public, he says House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been quietly encouraging her colleagues to sign on a co-sponsors.

As for Rep. Frank: “We have a disagreement on the strategy on this obviously, as we had a disagreement on the strategy over the non-inclusive ENDA last [Congress] where we no longer have that disagreement,” he said. “And, I presume, in the end, we will not have a disagreement on this.”
Even with Democrats potentially in danger, Nadler said he didn’t think lawmakers would avoid LGBT issues next year to reduce a perceived risk of alienating voters before the election.

“I think we’re going to face most of these issues this Congress, mostly next year,” he said. “I’m assuming that the gay community is going to keep the pressure on. I mean, don’t go to sleep because I said it as that. If the gay community keeps the pressure on, then I think that, yes, we’ll probably face most of these issues.
Don't worry, Rep. Nadler. We aren't going anywhere.

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