Sen. Chuck Grassley today forced the Senate Judiciary Committee to delay the markup of legislation to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.
The Iowa Republican and ranking member on the panel used a standard procedure to hold over for a week legislation being introduced for the first time for committee consideration. The committee chairman or ranking member, who are empowered to use this tactic, often do so to allow more time for the submission of amendments — and for the building of either more support or opposition to the legislation in question.
“The standard practice for all bills and nominees is that they are held over the first time that they appear on the committee’s agenda,” Grassley said during today’s Judiciary hearing. “In the past, I’ve held over even my own bills. I’ve circulated amendments to this bill and am working on more, so Members should be prepared to consider amendments to the bill at the committee’s next executive business meeting.”
DOMA, which was enacted under President Bill Clinton, defines marriage as between one man and one woman and allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages from other states. Though the measure is expected to eventually pass the Judiciary panel on a party-line vote, it does not appear to have enough support to pass the full Senate.
President Barack Obama’s Justice Department announced this year that it will not defend DOMA in court cases because the department believes the law is unconstitutional.
Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said the committee will vote next Thursday on the repeal and said he looks forward to panel approval of the measure.
"The Respect for Marriage Act would allow for all couples who are married in accordance with state law to be eligible for the same federal protections afforded to every other lawfully married couple in the country," Leahy said in a statement. "Nothing in this bill would obligate any person, religious organization, state or locality to perform a marriage between persons of the same sex. What would change, and what must change, is the federal government's unequal treatment of state-approved marriages. All married couples deserve the same clarity, fairness and security under our federal law. The time has come for the federal government to recognize that all married couples deserve the same legal protections."