Sen. Amy Klobuchar is one of only two Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee who have not signed on to a bill to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, and that committee is only two votes away from passing the bill out of committee. Klobuchar and Wisconsin Sen. Herb Kohl are seen as the two key votes on the committee and both have said they haven’t decided which way they will vote when the bill is taken up in the coming weeks.
The bill would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1995 bill signed by President Clinton which bans the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. In February, President Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder evaluated the law, found it likely to be unconstitutional and decided not to defend the law in court challenges. And last Wednesday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California introduced a bill to repeal the law.
Minnesota’s Sen. Al Franken, who also sits on the 18-member judiciary committee, is a sponsor of the bill. In order to pass the committee, the bill needs 10 votes, and eight senators on that committee are already sponsors. Eight other members of the committee are Republicans not likely to vote for the bill. That leaves two votes unaccounted for, those of Klobuchar and Kohl.
The Courage Campaign, a proponent of the bill, contacted Klobuchar and Kohl late last week.
“I just got off the phone with the offices of Democratic Sens. Kohl (D-WI) and Klobuchar (D-MN), who are not co-sponsors and told me they have not yet taken a position on the bill itself yet,” wrote Adam Bink, director of online programs for the Courage Campaign. “To my knowledge, no Republicans on the committee have taken a position on this bill, either. So we are two [votes] shy.”
OutFront Minnesota, the state’s largest LGBT advocacy group, responded to the news in a Facebook posting: “Who knew Amy Klobuchar hasn’t taken a position on the repeal of DOMA? It’ll probably come as a surprise to thousands of voters (and donors).”
In addition to the Senate bill, Minnesota Reps. Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum are sponsors of a House version.
“There are tens of thousands of legally marriage same-sex couples in the United States,” Sen. Feinstein said at a press conference on Wednesday. “Right now, because of DOMA, these couples cannot take advatage of federal protections available to every other married couples in this country.”