Later today, New York Congressman Jerry Nadler will introduce legislation to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law that prevents the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. Rep. Barney Frank, the longest-serving openly gay member of Congress, is not a co-sponsor of the bill because he has a "strategic difference" with its proponents, reports the Washington Blade.
"'It's not anything that's achievable in the near term,' he said. 'I think getting [the Employment Non-Discrimination Act], a repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' and full domestic partner benefits for federal employees will take up all of what we can do and maybe more in this Congress.' Frank also said that advocacy for the 'certainty provision,' as described by Nadler, would create 'political problems' in Congress. ... Frank said the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders lawsuit against DOMA, Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, stands a better shot of overturning DOMA than congressional action. The lawsuit specifically targets the portion of DOMA that prevents the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. 'That's very thoughtful, very well done,' Frank said. 'That's the way we'll win this.' "
The so-called "certainty provision" allows the portability of benefits.
Frank is correct: A legislative DOMA repeal is not achievable in the short-term. But the congressional repeal and the DOMA lawsuits—which have a strong chance at a favorable ruling—should not be mutually exclusive and it's important to build momentum. Not sure how "strategic" it is for the legislative branch to assume a lawsuit will succeed in the judicial branch.