There was big news on the marriage rights front on Thursday morning. According to Associated Press, the Senate Judiciary Committee has opted to repeal the controversial Defense of Marriage Act — the federal law that defines a marriage as only between a man and a woman. A law that was detested by countless supporters of same-sex marriages.
It came down to a 10-8 vote; all the committee Democrats voted in favor of appealing the law and all the Republicans opposing it. But as of now, this doesn’t actually affect anything. Why?
The repeal bill will need to have sixty votes out of the one hundred members of senate to actually pass. But the sponsors of the repeal aren’t feeling confident; they have realized that the votes that they need won’t be coming — especially since the House is controlled by Republicans. This panel basically just gave the repeal a green light to go to the entire senate for a vote.
The law that is in place now has a far-reaching economic effect on same-sex households everywhere. Same-sex couples don’t have all the rights that a male-female marriage does. Due to the law, “thousands of American families are now being treated unfairly by their federal government,” said the committee chairman, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. “They are shunted aside — singled out from all other marriages recognized by their states.”
The bill’s main sponsor, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., stated that the law “is discriminatory and should be stricken.”
But even though the law has been in effect since 1996 (when President Bill Clinton signed it), there are seven states that do recognize gay marriage. A federal change in policy? With how the Senate is divided now, that won’t be happening anytime soon.