Marriage law hearing to feature same-sex couples

July 19, 2011 - 12:14 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sensing a shift in the public's thinking, proponents of same-sex marriage are hoping that a Senate committee hearing on Wednesday will mark the beginning of the end for a 15-year-old law that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California says she is under no illusion that Congress will act this year to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.

Still, the Democratic lawmaker views the Senate Judiciary Committee's first hearing on the law as an important first step. The hearing gives lawmakers the chance to hear from married, same-sex couples who are ineligible for the many federal benefits that accrue to married, heterosexual couples.

For example, gay couples who get married in New York cannot file joint federal income taxes and claim certain deductions.