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Defense of Marriage Act hearing turns comical thanks to Sen. Al Franken

July 20, 2011 |  6:25 pm

Defense of Marriage Act hearing turns comical thanks to Sen. Al Franken

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) needed a better defense witness than Tom Minnery could provide Wednesday after Sen. Al Franken exposed him for misrepresenting a study.

Franken, the former "Saturday Night Live" cast member and now a Democratic senator from Minnesota, used some of his comedic skills and razor-sharp timing to take down the Focus on the Family representative.

He also used the curious technique of actually reading the study his witness cited.

Hilarity ensued when Franken discovered that Minnery had misrepresented a Department of Health and Human Services definition of a "nuclear family" to better fit FOTF's conservative worldview.

During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing held Wednesday, Franken highlighted the Christian group's statement that kids "living with their biological and/or adopted mothers and fathers" were better off in a variety of ways than those children "living in any other family form".

"I checked the study out," said Franken, the author of "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them."

"It actually doesn't say what you said it says," he continued.

"Isn't it true, Mr. Minnery, that a married same-sex couple that has had or adopted kids would fall under the definition of 'a nuclear family' in the study that you cite?" Franken asked.

"I would think that the study, when it cites 'nuclear families,' would mean a family headed by a husband and wife," Minnery replied.

"It doesn't," Franken, also the author of "Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot" retorted, inspiring laughter from the gallery.

"The study defines a nuclear family as 'one or more children living with two parents who are married to one another and are each biological or adoptive parents to all the children in the family,'" Franken righteously read.

"And I frankly don't really know how we can trust the rest of your testimony if you are reading studies these ways," Franken concluded.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein yesterday introduced a new bill, the Respect for Marriage Act, that would repeal DOMA. President Obama has endorsed the new act.

DOMA, which was signed into law by President Clinton, prevents legally married same-sex couples from filing joint federal income taxes while claiming certain deductions, receiving spousal benefits under Social Security, taking unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act when a loved one falls seriously ill, and obtaining the protections of the estate tax when one spouse dies and wants to leave his or her possessions to the other. 



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-- Tony Pierce

Photo: Sen. Al Franken, a Democrat from Minnesota, in the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., on June 9.  Credit: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg