Senate sponsors of the Respect for Marriage Act tape a message of hope to young kids.
Today they took solid action toward making it better.
The Senate Judiciary committee held hearings this morning on the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill that would fully repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and allow the Federal Government to recognize same-sex marriages performed in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and Washington, D.C. for the purposes of all Federal benefits and obligations.
The vote was 10 to 8, splitting directly along expected party lines. It was approved out of committee without amendments, and is ready for a floor vote (probably unlikely, but theoretically possible). MetroWeekly has news coverage here.
My observations of the hearing below, not all statements are intended to be construed as factual statements.
Senator Dianne Feinstein of California said the USA has 131,000 couples who are discriminated against by DOMA and we must end this discrimination.
Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont said, "Love and commitment are not the usual topics of this committee." However, "If you're paying the taxes, you're fulfilling the obligations and ought to get the same benefits as anyone else."
Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois said, "I want to be clear, I voted for DOMA. I was wrong."
Senator Chris Coons of Delaware said equality is not a special interest. It is a fundamental interest of this country.
Senator Grassley of Iowa said marriage has always been the same and should not change.
Senator Franken of Minnesota reminded him of the history of women as chattel, polygamy, and various other gaps in Grassley's memory. He said, "the suffering that DOMA causes is very real. It hurts families."
Both Senators Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut made the point that returning full sovereignty over marital rights to the states is the Federalist thing to do.
Senator Tom Coburn of
Texas oops Jesusland oops Oklahoma said we should get back to important things, like jobs, economy and a complimenty Senate resolution affirming "In God We Trust."
Senator Chuck Schumer of New York invoked Martin Luther King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail saying the that the "now is not the time" argument always means never for the disenfranchised. He said this bill, Respect for Marriage will not deliver universal marriage equality, but "One day we will debate full marriage equality and it will pass."
Republicans whined that it will never pass the Senate or the House and it was as pointless as Speaker Boehner passing repeal of healthcare reform.
Senator John Cornyn argued "Repealing DOMA would increase the cost of Social Security," because the system isn't prepared to pay out same-sex partner benefits. Senator Cornyn is apparently under the impression gay people don't have to pay into Social Security. He's also unaware that the biggest threat to Social Security is not Senators voting for DOMA repeal, it's citizens voting for Republicans.
Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said he though DOMA was a good compromise. Suggests we need a Federal Amendment to stop him if he's tempted to marry a Rentboy someday. Also that history had been too hard on the Chamberlain guy.
Senator Dick Durbin says if only the 30 DOMA repeal sponsors vote for it on the floor, it will still be worth it.
Senator Chris Coons said regardless how it plays out, the Senate moving on this bill will send an important message to kids that "it does get better." He'd know something about that concept.
Well done Democrats. Fight the good fight.
Update Think Progress' Igor Volsky has uploaded clips to his YouTube Channel.
Here is Senator Grassley concern trolling on the topic of the effect on Social Security, I do believe that is a new tactic, I don't think I've heard that before. So hilarious coming from the party who lives to destroy Social Security. Senator Leahy and Feinstein nicely address the issue. They use silly things like facts, including a CBO analysis that suggest it will also provide savings. As they countered fear with facts, it is unclear if that did anything to assuage Senator Grassley's concerns.
Update 2: Nice, White House issues a statement, h/t indiemcemopants.
“President Obama applauds today’s vote by the Senate Judiciary Committee to approve the Respect for Marriage Act, which would provide a legislative repeal of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act.” “The President has long believed that DOMA is discriminatory and has called for its repeal. We should all work towards taking this law off the books. The federal government should not deny gay and lesbian couples the same rights and legal protections afforded to straight couples."
Update To Say Senator Grassley Is A Disgusting Pig
Now, much of the usual, opposition was the standard, "We're just 'protecting' marriage," "Marriage is only for people who procreate," and the like. I can't be bothered to be bothered by much of that. The DOMA Repeal will hurt Social Security is new though, to me at least.
But the most disgusting tactic was Senator Grassley cherry-picking from Frank Bruni's piece in the New York Times on the LGBT community and African Americans. Grassley is participating "divide and conquer" tactic that we have also seen National Organization for Marriage participate in, using race as a wedge, trying to stoke division between these two minority communities. I found it disgusting. His cherry-picking misrepresented Bruni's thoughtful sensitive take on a sensitive subject. This is a tactic the conservatives have adopted. Let us not fall for it. Gays are not the enemies of African Americans and African Americans are not the enemies of gays.