Sen. Patrick Leahy says the Senate Judiciary Committee he heads will vote next month on legislation to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

The Vermont Democrat says that overturning the 1996 law was "part of the nation's continuing fight for civil rights for all Americans." He says it's time to ensure equality for gay and lesbian Americans who are lawfully married.

The Defense of Marriage Act also says that no state should have to accept another state's recognition of a same-sex marriage.

The legislation repealing it would make same-sex marriages eligible for the federal benefits that opposite-sex marriages have.