Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Polis has signed on as a lead co-sponsor of legislation that will be introduced next week to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage exclusively as the union between one man and one woman, The Advocate reports. The bill’s sponsor, Democratic U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, plans to unveil a full repeal of the 1996 federal law — including elimination of a section telling states not to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states — Tuesday at the Capitol.
The Nadler bill won’t attempt to add federal rights for civil unions or domestic partnerships, according to an interview the New York Democrat gave to the Bay Area Reporter earlier this summer, but will extend federal benefits to married same-sex couples even when they move to states that don’t allow gay marriage.
Nadler said the bill has more than 50 House supporters so far, including Polis and U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, a Wisconsin Democrat, but the Washington Blade reports that Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank — the senior openly gay member of Congress — isn’t among them.
Frank said he has “strategic differences” with supporters of the DOMA repeal. “It’s not anything that’s achievable in the near term,” Frank told the Blade, adding that Congress has enough on its plate with a host of other gay-rights proposals, including overturning the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Frank also said he thought Nadler’s plan to recognize gay marriages in states that outlaw it could “stir up unnecessary opposition” in Congress.
“I was shocked and disappointed to learn that President Obama chose to defend DOMA in federal court,” Polis said in a statement, “especially given his campaign promise to call for a full repeal of DOMA. My sadness turned to outrage when I read the Justice Department’s brief that not only defended this hurtful law but seemed to embrace it.”
In 2006, Colorado voters passed Amendment 43, “specifying that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Colorado.” The same year, voters rejected a ballot proposal to establish same-sex civil unions.
A spokeswoman for Polis said he would have more to say about the DOMA repeal next week when the legislation is introduced.