Conyers: Judiciary has enough votes to overturn DOMA

The votes are there on the House Judiciary Committee to repeal the law allowing states to refuse to recognize other states' same-sex marriages, committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) said.

"Well in my committee, yes, but in the House and Senate, that's a different question," Conyers told the Michigan Messenger in a weekend interview published Tuesday about the prospects for a repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

A Judiciary-backed bill to repeal DOMA could mark a first step toward a repeal of the 1996 law enacted by a Republican-led Congress and signed into law by a Democratic president.

The law exempts same-sex marriages from states' usual obligation under federal law to recognize other states' marriage licenses. The law also bars the federal government from treating same-sex relationships as marriages for any purpose.

Conyers was one of only 67 members of the House to vote against DOMA in 1996; 342 House lawmakers supported it. Conyers also opposed the legislation in committee, along with eight other Democrats.

Since 1996, three states have established legal same-sex marriage through court or legislative decisions, while others intend to establish those rights later this year. Other states have seen voters overturn court decisions on same-sex marriage, while some state legislatures have elected to recognize other states' gay and lesbian marriages.

Conyers told the Messenger he has "always" supported equal rights for same-sex couples.