View From the Hill: Legislatively Speaking

LGBT legislation is finally on the move, with new developments on DOMA and DADT repeal, immigration reform, and more. Now the race is on to capitalize before the 2010 election.

BY Kerry Eleveld

July 09 2009 11:00 PM ET

And here's a little tidbit I ran across this week: A DOMA repeal bill is nearing introduction; it could even happen before the August recess, according to sources familiar with the discussions.

As usual, the devil's in the details, and that's what's stalling introduction.

"One approach would be simply to repeal section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, which would allow federal recognition of marriages," Rep. Tammy Baldwin told me outside the DPBO hearing.

"There's disagreement about what about states that have civil unions or domestic partnerships but not marriage. If you include federal recognition of those, does that dissipate the argument for marriage and that [there's] no substitute. That's a very lively discussion we're having," she said. "So things like that are impeding the immediate introduction of the bill."

If you want to brush up on the bill, I reported on it in more detail back in April. Baldwin confirmed that Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York will be the lead House sponsor and, while the Senate lead is still up in the air, expect senators Russ Feingold and Chuck Schumer to be in the mix. A final point of interest: One source said that the House version of the bill "could include repealing more than just section 3" of DOMA, but he said discussions were ongoing and declined to go into further detail.

Senator Schumer is also playing a central role in the immigration debate and said earlier this week that he will have a comprehensive immigration reform bill ready by Labor Day. "We are hoping and expecting that lesbian and gay families will be included in that bill," said Immigration Equality's Steve Ralls. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is apparently waiting to see how the Senate legislation plays out before introducing the House version.

Taken together, this full court press could amount to comprehensive LGBT reform. Now, let's see what materializes before the midterms.

Tags: Politics

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