Describing the Defense of Marriage Act as “just wrong,” Delaware Senator Chris Coons (D-Del) urged his colleagues to repeal the 15-year-old law at Wednesday’s landmark Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
“I don’t see what business it is of our federal government to reach into Americans’ hearts and judge them for whom they love,” Sen. Coons said at the hearing.
The Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, defines “marriage” for federal purposes to exclude same-sex marriage, and allows states to deny legal recognition of same-sex marriages performed out of state. The Respect for Marriage Act (S.598) was introduced earlier this year to repeal DOMA.
An original cosponsor of S.598, Sen. Coons describes himself as an ardent supporter of equality under the law for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.
“I’m tired of it being the law of this land that it’s okay for the government to discriminate against Americans solely because of their gender identity or sexual orientation,” Sen. Coons said. “I think it is no wonder that we continue to see kids being bullied in school and see so many LGBT children take their own lives because they’ve given up hope, because, in my view, because this law simply encourages discrimination.”
For the first time on Tuesday, President Obama offered his support for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, although the bill is not expected to pass in this Session of Congress.
Sen. Coons’ opening statement at Wednesday’s hearing can be downloaded here.