Congressional Leaders Mull Partial DOMA Repeal

Some Congressional members are considering repealing part of the Defense of Marriage Act, allowing the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages.

BY Kerry Eleveld

April 14 2009 12:00 AM ET

Legislators declined to
discuss specifics due to the fact that they are trying to
reconcile different approaches in order to introduce matching
bills in the House and the Senate.

"With the
landscape changing so quickly, we want to make sure
congressional leaders, advocates, and litigators are all in the
same place," said Amy Rutkin, Representative Nadler's
chief of staff.

The basic question
surrounding the bill is which same-sex unions to recognize and
how to make those unions portable in a way that will allow the
federal government to provide benefits to gay partners
regardless of whether they live in Alabama or
Massachusetts.

According to those
familiar with the discussions, some have advocated for only
recognizing marriages while others have shown an interest in
including civil unions and strong domestic partnerships
too.

"The idea is to
recognize a relationship or marriage that is recognized by a
state," Anders explained. So if a couple is legally
recognized in any state, he added, "you would be entitled
to the federal benefits and protections and liabilities of
marriage."

But the Human Rights
Campaign's Joe Solmonese said he is less concerned about the
exact form the legislation takes at the moment than he is in
getting "something on the burner."

"I think the House
and Senate version wouldn't have to be one in the same,
there can be differences," he said. "But once you get
legislation introduced in both, you've got the educational
vehicle and the organizing principle for the community to
really get to work on."

Sources declined to
discuss the exact timing of when such a bill might be
introduced, but they generally agreed it would be before the
end of the year and probably within the next several
months.

Tags: Politics

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