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Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on the impact the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)—through which, in 1996, Congress took a staunch stand against same-sex marriage—has had on gay and lesbian families. The hearings were held as part of the consideration of a new bill, the Respect for Marriage Act of 2011 (S.B. 398), which is currently pending in the Senate.

The new bill would reverse some of the effects of DOMA; for this reason, it should be passed into law. The federal DOMA, which started out as an ill-thought-out statement of principle, has now spawned a legal and bureaucratic mess. The time has thus come for DOMA to go.