Senate Democrats who back gay marriage have decided now is the time to repeal a federal law defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
The Democrats may satisfy their gay marriage supporters, but the bill won't get very far.
The repeal could be approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, but the next stop - the full Senate - could be a long way off. The bill's chief sponsor, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., says she doesn't have the votes for Senate passage, and the bill would have no chance in a House controlled by Republican conservatives.
The chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., defended the timing of the panel's likely vote on the Defense of Marriage Act. "It is never the wrong time to right an injustice," he said.
Feinstein's bill has 31 Senate sponsors, all Democrats. Most Republicans fiercely oppose the repeal.
"Traditional marriage between a man and a woman has been the foundation of our society for 6,000 years," said Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary panel. "The Defense of Marriage Act protects this sacred institution, which I believe in, and attempts to dismantle this law are likely to be met with a great deal of resistance."