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DOMA Repeal Bill Won’t Pass Because It Lets Gay Couples Keep Benefits Across State Lines

A Democratic congressman will introduce on Tuesday a bill to repeal DOMA, the law that (1) prohibits federal recognition of gay marriage and (2) lets states ignore gay marriages performed in other states. 

It won't pass.

The bill infringes on state rights too much to get enough political support. Not only would it allow federal recognition of gay marriages in states that allow them, but it would also let couples married in these states keep their benefits when they travel to states that don't recognize their marriages.

Certainly, gay couples would love to keep federal rights when traveling to other states, an ability heterosexual couples take for granted. But states without gay marriage would oppose the federal intrusion on their laws.

Because there's no way the bill will pass, even Barney Frank, the openly gay chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, will oppose it:

If we had a chance to pass that, it would be a different story, but I don't think it's a good idea to rekindle that debate when there's no chance of passage in the near term.

Instead, Congressman Frank suggested that lawsuits challenging DOMA, such as Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, are the best way to repeal the bill.

[Cross-posted at the Gay Couples Law Blog, which discusses same sex family law and estate planning.]

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Gideon Alper

Gideon Alper