Leahy Announces Witnesses For July 20 Hearing On Repeal Of Defense Of Marriage Act

WASHINGTON (Thursday, July 14, 2011) – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Thursday announced a list of witnesses invited to testify at a July 20 congressional hearing about a proposal to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). 

Earlier this month, Leahy announced the Committee’s plan to hold the first-ever congressional hearing on Respect for Marriage Act, legislation introduced earlier this year to repeal DOMA.  The hearing is entitled “S.598, The Respect For Marriage Act: Assessing the Impact of DOMA on American Families,” and will be held Wednesday, July 20, at 10:00 a.m.

On Thursday, Leahy announced a list of witnesses invited by the Committee’s majority members to testify at the hearing.  Additional witnesses are expected to be invited at the request of Committee Republicans.

Testifying at the hearing will be Susan Murray of  Vermont; Andrew Sorbo of Connecticut; Ron Wallen of California; Joe Solmonese, President of the Human Rights Campaign; and Evan Wolfson, Founder and Executive Director of Freedom to Marry.

Member statements, witness testimony, and a live webcast will be available online on July 20.

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Witness Information


For Background Purposes Only


Susan Murray, Ferrisburgh, Vermont.  Susan Murray lives with her wife, Karen, in Ferrisburgh, Vermont.  Ms. Murray is a partner in the Burlington office of Langrock Sperry & Wool, where she specializes in family law, appeals, estate planning and civil rights.  She was the co-counsel in Baker v. State of Vermont, which established civil unions in Vermont.

Andrew Sorbo, Cheshire, Connecticut.  Andrew Sorbo and Colin Atterbury were married in Cheshire, Connecticut, on January 14, 2009. They had previously been joined in a civil union in Vermont.  The couple had planned to marry in the summer of 2009.  Instead, the couple moved their wedding date to January, because Mr. Atterbury was nearing the end of a three-year battle with pancreatic cancer.  He passed away in April 2009.  Mr. Atterbury was a retired Veterans Affairs hospital administrator and professor of medicine at Yale University.  Mr. Sorbo, now retired, worked for 35 years as a history teacher and principal. 

Ron Wallen, Indio, California.  Ron Wallen and Tom Carrollo, both veterans, were married in 2008 in California, after being in a committed relationship for 55 years.  In March 2011, Mr. Carrollo lost his battle to cancer.  For over 30 years, the couple planned carefully for their future.  But following Mr. Carrollo’s passing, Mr. Wallen’s household income was slashed, because the Defense of Marriage Act prohibits him from receiving his huband’s Social Security payment that any opposite-sex spouse would be entitled to receive.  As a result, Mr. Wallen is now unable to make payments on their family home.  He is now faced with selling their family home, after just losing his spouse. 

Joe Solmonese , President, Human Rights Campaign.  The Human Rights Campaign is one of the nation’s leading LGBT organizations.  Its membership totals more than one million.


Evan Wolfson, Founder and Executive Director, Freedom to Marry.  Freedom to Marry works closely with state chapters to promote marriage equality.

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