Obama Backs Repeal of ‘So-Called Defense of Marriage Act’
(CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama is in favor of repealing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), his press secretary announced at a briefing with reporters on Tuesday.
“I can tell you that the president has long called for a legislative repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which continues to have a real impact on the lives of real people, our families, friends and neighbors,” spokesman Jay Carney said. “He is proud to support the Respect for Marriage Act, introduced by Sen. Feinstein and Congressman Nadler, which would take DOMA off the books once and for all.”
“This legislation would uphold the principle that the federal government should not deny gay and lesbian couples the same rights and legal protections as straight couples,” Carney said.
The Defense of Marriage was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996, and it says, in general, that for any federal purposes marriage “means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.” It also says that no state is required to recognize same-sex marriages performed in a different state.
Supporters of homosexual behavior, including same-sex “marriage,” responded positively to Obama’s endorsement of Feinstein’s bill, which would repeal DOMA and also ensure that same-sex married couples are entitled to receive benefits under federal law, such as medical leave and survivors’ benefits. The law would not, however, require states without homosexual marriage laws to accept such couplings.
Feinstein’s legislation would repeal DOMA and amend Sec. 7, Title 1, USC, to read as follows: “For the purposes of any Federal law in which marital status is a factor, an individual shall be considered married if that individual's marriage is valid in the State where the marriage was entered into or, in the case of a marriage entered into outside any State, if the marriage is valid in the place where entered into and the marriage could have been entered into in a State.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing on the Respect for Marriage Act on Wednesday.
“We are delighted that today, on the eve of a historic Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, President Obama endorsed the Respect for Marriage Act,” Rick Jacobs, gay activist who arranged a press conference on the legislation at the National Press Club on Tuesday where Feinstein spoke. “It is rare that a White House endorses a bill that has yet to pass first in either the Senate or the House.
“President Obama’s decision to do so underscores the urgency with which the Defense of Marriage Act must be repealed,” Jacobs said in an e-mail sent to reporters. “His support makes clear to all Americans that the Defense of Marriage Act has no place in our society.”
Jacobs said 25,000 members of his Courage Campaign signed a letter to Obama urging him to support repeal of DOMA and the Respect for Marriage bill. Six members of the campaign – two lesbian couples that are married and an unmarried gay couple -- attended the press conference with Jacobs.
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force also praised Obama via an e-mailed press release.
“President Obama did the right thing today by announcing his support of the Respect for Marriage Act,” Rea Carey, executive director of the task force, said. “In doing so, he joins the large and growing chorus urging for an end to DOMA, a discriminatory, unjust and far-reaching law.
“There is no sound defense of the indefensible DOMA, which singles out and selectively denies fundamental rights to legally married same-sex couples,” Carey said.
While President Obama opposes DOMA, he has not said whether he supports same-sex marriage. At a June 30 press conference, when asked about his view of homosexual marriage, Obama said: “I’m not going to make news on that today.”
Since his inauguration in January 2009, Obama has backed myriad pro-gay initiatives, including the ending of “don’t ask, don’t tell” in the military; his Justice Department refusing to defend DOMA in federal court; expansion of pro-homosexual programs in the nation’s public schools; pro-gay programs government-wide in June, the administration’s month devoted to LGBT issues; the appointment of open homosexuals to prominent positions in his administration; and public support for New York’s new same-sex marriage law.