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Locals React as Congress Talks about Same Sex Marriage

Angela Monroe

Locals React as Congress Talks about Same Sex Marriage

CREATED Jul. 20, 2011

It's a historic day as a congressional committee holds a hearing discussing repealing the Defense of Marriage Act.
Right here in the desert, many same-sex couples are watching to see what happens next.

"I've seen civil rights, I've seen womens rights, I've seen gay rights, I'm hoping also that someday we look back at this and it seems odd that it was ever an issue in the first place."
Doug Gentry met his husband, Alex Benshimol, in Palm Springs six years ago. They got married last year.
But Benshimol is originally from Venezuela and faces deportation.
"Every couple has the right to sponsor their spouse for citizenship, because of DOMA, we don't," says Gentry.
The Defense of Marriage Act, DOMA, defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
Senator Dianne Feinstein is sponsoring the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal DOMA.
And Tuesday, President Obama announced his support of the senator's bill.
George Zander, with Equality California, says there is a lot of movement for marriage equality.
"Here in the Coachella Valley, Palm Springs city council 5 to 0 passed a resolution proclaiming marriage equality for all citizens, the people of Palm Springs, and this was huge, and now buoyed by that, we're talking to the other cities in the Coachella Valley."
DOMA, passed in 1996, means the federal government doesn't recognize same-sex marriages.
"Totally unfair, totally discrimnatory, totally against the Constitution, and to lift that and allow millions of people to get married, would be of course equality," say Zander.
Gentry says, "If DOMA goes away we would be able to file our taxes together, we wouldn't have to worry about inheritance, you wouldn't have to worry about social security, immigration, there's over one thousand benefits that are granted to opposite sex couple that are not granted to same sex couples."
And Gentry says he is hopeful the end of DOMA is near.
"They call DOMA the Defense of Marriage even though I don't know what negative impact same sex marriage has on traditional marriage, but I'm very pleased they did name it the Respect of Marriage act, because that's what it's about it, it's about respecting people, allowing them to marry who you love."