Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) announced today -- in his role as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee -- that, "in the coming weeks, the Committee will hold the first congressional hearing on proposals to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)," according to a news release issued by the senator's office.
Leahy supports the repeal of DOMA. According to the release, "The hearing will be entitled 'S.598, The Respect for Marriage Act: Assessing the Impact of DOMA on American Families,' and is expected to be held in the coming weeks. The hearing will be webcast live online. Further details will be announced at a later date."
Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese said in a release, "We thank Sens. Leahy, [Dianne] Feinstein [(D-Calif.)] and [Kirsten] Gillibrand [(D-N.Y.)] for their leadership in ending federal marriage discrimination as well as Rep. [Jerrold] Nadler [(D-N.Y.)] for his advocacy in the House. We look forward to continuing to work with them on this upcoming hearing and until all marriages are treated equally in the eyes of the law.
Gillibrand praised the move, saying in a statement, "I applaud Chairman Leahy for holding this important hearing to end the discrimination that is currently enshrined into U.S. law. Marriage is the true foundation for strong families. Every loving, committed couple deserves the basic human right to get married, start a family, and have access to all the same rights and privileges that my husband and I enjoy.
"Now is the time to act on the federal level."
The move comes just days after DOJ filed a brief attacking DOMA in a lawsuit brought by Karen Golinski, a federal court employee who is seeking equal health insurance coverage for her wife that would be available for a male federal court employee for his wife. The DOJ brief strongly argued that Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional. Earlier today, a DOJ spokesperson -- in conjunction with a filing seeking to withdraw from an appeal in another case -- wrote that, regarding certain bankruptcy cases, that DOJ "will no longer seek dismissal of bankruptcy petitions filed jointly by same-sex debtors who are married under state law."
It is not yet known whether anyone from DOJ will testify at the hearing.