By Mike Lillis - 06/26/13 04:44 PM EDT
Democrats in both chambers will introduce legislation this week to scrap the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in its entirety.
The move is an indication that the lawmakers, while delighted with the Supreme Court's Wednesday decision to invalidate much of the 17-year-old law barring same-sex marriage, don't think the ruling went far enough to protect gay and lesbian couples from discrimination.
"We should celebrate today — it's a great day — but our work is not yet over," Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) told reporters in the Capitol. "We still need to wipe DOMA in its entirety off the books."
In its 5-4 decision Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled that Section 3 of DOMA, which bars same-sex couples from receiving federal benefits, even in states that recognize gay marriage, is unconstitutional.
But the court did not consider Section 2, which stipulates that states don't have to recognize the same-sex marriages allowed by other states.
"We still need to repeal Section 2," Nadler said.
The bill would also clarify that same-sex couples living in states that do not recognize gay marriage are nonetheless eligible for any federal benefits for which they might qualify — benefits that might not be guaranteed even in the wake of the high court's decision, Nadler said.
"Some statutes would seem to indicate the federal government will recognize [couples] for that purpose, and some don't," he said.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) will unveil a companion bill in the upper chamber, Nadler said.
The legislation will face enormous barriers in Congress, where Republicans wasted little time Wednesday criticizing the decision.
“I firmly believe that preserving the institution of traditional marriage is crucial to the stability of our society and serves the best interest of American families," Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said in a statement. "Today’s decision is certainly a setback for the traditional values that make up the backbone of our country.”