by On Top Magazine

Patrick Leahy on Friday announced that there would be a vote on a bill that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)

Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Friday announced that the committee has scheduled a vote for a bill that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the law that defines marriage for federal agencies and the military as a heterosexual union.

Leahy said consideration of the bill would take place in November.

“The march for equality continues, and now is the time to ensure equality for gay and lesbian Americans who are lawfully married,” Leahy, who supports repeal, said in a statement. “Next month, I will call up the Respect for Marriage Act for debate and a vote in the Judiciary Committee. The Respect for Marriage Act would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which prevents thousands of American families from being protected by laws that help secure other American families. This is part of the nation's continuing fight for civil rights for all Americans.”

While the panel's Democratic majority backs the bill – making approval a near forgone conclusion – Republican members are uniformly opposed to the measure. The issue in the GOP-controlled House is a non-starter.

Still, passage out of the committee will represent a symbolic victory for gay marriage advocates.

“Thousands of loving and committed couples have gotten married in New York and other states since the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on the Respect for Marriage Act in July, and all of them are now enduring harms because of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and its double standard,” said Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry. “It is time for Congress to repeal DOMA's discrimination, and we are pleased that Senator Leahy is moving the Respect for Marriage Act forward.”

The legislation was first introduced in 2009 by New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler. California Senator Dianne Feinstein is the bill's primary sponsor in the Senate.

Photo: Flickr/Center for American Progress