SJC Votes to Repeal Defense of Marriage Act

By Joe Vena

The Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law that strictly defines marriage as between one man and one woman, was voted to be repealed by Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, November 10, 2011.

The vote, which sends the proposal to the full Senate floor, apparently has little to no chance of getting passed by the Republican-led House.

The measure, which would provide equal federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples, was supported by all 10 majority Democrats of the Judiciary Committee, yet all eight Republicans voted against it. Democrats and gay rights advocates, however, recognized the vote as a landmark in the enduring effort to not only universally legalize same-sex marriage, but to also end oppressive treatment of same-sex couples that are already legally married.

Social conservatives claim, though, that the attempted repeal disregards what they believe to be the interests and beliefs of the majority of American citizens.

“Marriage is not some prize that liberals can award to a small, vocal and already well-off special interest group,” said a statement by Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. “Marriage between one man and one woman was created prior to the formation of any governments and is given benefits by governments because it uniquely contributes to a productive society.”

Passed in 1996, the Defense of Marriage Act defines marriage only as between a man and a woman, thereby denying same-sex couples over 1,000 federal marriage benefits, including sustained Social Security payments to spouses after death.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California democrat, sponsored the proposal, saying that repealing the act means that same-sex couples who were already legally wed in the six states which have legalized gay and lesbian marriages would be entitled to these full federal benefits, regardless of where they currently live.