Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy said he thinks the fight for gay rights is a continuation of the national civil rights battle.
“The repeal of DOMA will likely end in the Judiciary Committee,” a Republican aide said. “The Senate isn’t going to pass the bill. Even Sen. Feinstein has admitted the votes aren’t there, and the House probably won’t even consider the bill. It’s a political messaging bill for the liberal base.”
But supporters remain unbowed. “I don’t expect we’d be able to get to 60 [votes to defeat a filibuster] on the Senate floor,” Moulton said. But he added that the markup will allow advocates to keep the matter moving forward.
“Certainly we are still continuing to build co-sponsors on the bill, to educate; it’s the first Congress where we have had a repeal bill in the Senate at all,” Moulton continued.
Moulton said that moving forward in the Judiciary Committee also allows Democrats “to show their leadership” on the issue, which the HRC argues is good politics as the issue wins more acceptance.
“We’ve seen majorities of Americans now supporting not only marriage equality but specifically supporting the repeal of DOMA, so I do think they are bringing up an issue that has popular support and will help raise the profile of what’s going on and the rights and benefits that are being denied to lawfully married same-sex couples.”
President Barack Obama in February announced that the administration would no longer defend DOMA in court. The move prompted Feinstein to introduce her bill in March.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who opposed Obama’s decision, subsequently enlisted former Solicitor General Paul Clement to defend DOMA on behalf of the House’s Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.