This morning, US Reps. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Jerry Nadler (D-NY) announced a new bill that would repeal the federal Defense Of Marriage Act, aka DOMA, and insert a “certainty provision” into federal law that would guarantee federal benefits for couples living in states that do not recognize same-sex marriage if they were married in another state that allowed it. However, Rep. Barny Frank, a titan of gay issues in the House of Representatives, refuses to support the bill, the Washington Blade reports.
According to the Blade, Frank believes Baldwin, Polis, and Nadler, along with the Human Rights Campaign, the main lobbying force behind a repeal of DOMA, are over-reaching.
“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.
“The provision that says you can take your benefits as you travel, I think, will stir up unnecessary opposition with regard to the question of are you trying to export it to other states,” he said. “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.”
This tension over priorities has been at the center of LGBTQ political advocacy for many years. Supporters of same-sex marriage say that theirs is the issue of the day, while critics say that same-sex marriage chiefly benefits middle- and upper-class gays and lesbians, and leaves out many trans and queer people, and many poorer members of the community. A bill expanding the federal government’s definition of a hate crime to include crimes motivated by disability, perceived sexual orientation or gender identity was passed earlier this year by the House.