Leahy on Same-Sex Marriage: 'You Have Two People Making Each Better’

By Penny Starr | November 3, 2011 | 4:02 PM EDT

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(CNSNews.com) - Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on Thursday delayed a vote on repealing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), but said that married couples--including same-sex couples--should be “applauded" for making each other better.

Leahy referred to former Sen. Bob Stafford (D-Vt.), who credited his wife of more than 60 years for his success when asked about his stand on legalizing same-sex marriage, which has been done in Vermont.

“His comment was, ‘If you have two people who love each other and they make each other better because of that, what difference does it make to us in Vermont whether they’re the same sex or not?’” Leahy said.

“We ought to just applaud the fact that if you have two people making each better than they might have been by themselves--I agree with Senator Stafford,” Leahy said.

Leahy, who voted for DOMA in 1996, said he would vote for Senate bill 598, the Respect for Marriage Act, to repeal the law.

In this July 12, 2011 photo, Elissa Kane, left, and Lynne Lekakis relax in their backyard with their dog Lucky, in Albany, N.Y. The couple plans to make their marriage official as New York's new marriage law takes effect. (AP Photo/Tim Roske)

The Defense of Marriage Act says that for federal purposes, marriage is defined as being between one man and one woman, and that no state is required to recognize a homosexual “marriage” from another state.

The Respect for Marriage Act would repeal DOMA and, for federal purposes, look at marriage as follows:

Sec. 7. Marriage

(a) For the purposes of any Federal law in which marital status is a factor, an individual shall be considered married if that individual's marriage is valid in the State where the marriage was entered into or, in the case of a marriage entered into outside any State, if the marriage is valid in the place where entered into and the marriage could have been entered into in a State.

(b) In this section, the term 'State' means a State, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or any other territory or possession of the United States.'