Senate Democrats are pressing forward with what will likely prove to be a futile attempt to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act that bars federal recognition of same-sex marriage.
The so-called Respect for Marriage Act, which would overturn the law, cleared the Judiciary Committee on Thursday along party lines, technically clearing the way for it to be brought to the Senate floor. But the chances of that actually happening appear slim at best, with even the bill's sponsor, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, admitting that she doesn't currently have the votes needed to overcome a Republican-led filibuster, Politico reports.
Even if the bill were to make it through the Senate, it is even less likely to pass the GOP-controlled House. Nonetheless, the effort provides Democrats the chance to win political points with their supporters ahead of next year's elections.
The measure is not the only effort in motion to overturn DOMA, which was signed into law in 1996 by Bill Clinton. It is accompanied by a number of legal challenges currently making their way through the court system, including one filed last month by a group of gay and lesbian service members.
The Associated Press on the economic toll DOMA has on gay couples:
Those couples cannot file joint federal income tax returns and take deductions available in traditional marriages. There are no spousal Social Security benefits. They can't take advantage of the Family and Medical Leave law that protects one's job and health insurance during emergency absences. Surviving gay spouses have no protection from estate taxes.
The current push to overturn the law comes on the heels of the Obama administration’s announcement that they will no longer defend it against legal challenges. House Republicans have since taken up the task of defending DOMA in court.
Sen. Charles Grassley, the top Republican on the judiciary panel, called Feinstein's bill a "cynical political gesture to the Democrats' base," according to the Associated Press. The Iowa lawmaker added: "Traditional marriage between a man and a woman has been the foundation of our society for 6,000 years."