Obama Still Supports Repeal of Defense of Marriage Act, White House Says
March 16, 2009 - 6:05 PMWhite House press secretary Robert Gibbs confirmed on Friday that, as promised on the campaign trail, President Obama "would" work to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which protects states from being forced to recognize same-sex marriages contracted in other states.
“The president's position remains the same,” Gibbs said in his daily White House briefing on Friday when a reporter asked him if Obama would still like to see the legislative repeal of DOMA.
“The president would – would work with Congress in order to – not just on this, but on other ideas – institute what he promised he'd do in the campaign,” said Gibbs. “I don't have a specific update on where the legislation is.”
DOMA, signed by President Clinton in 1996, protects states from having to recognize same-sex marriages contracted in other states. Ordinarily, under the "Full Faith and Credit Clause" of the Constitution, states are required to recognize "the public Acts, Records and judicial proceedings of every other states."
If DOMA were repealed, every state would be required to recognize, for example, the same-sex marriages contracted in Massachusetts.
Gibbs’ statement appears to fall in line with statements Obama made on the presidential campaign trail last year. In an open letter to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual (LGBT) community that was posted on Obama's campaign Web site on Feb. 28, 2008, Obama wrote that he favors repealing DOMA.
"Unlike Senator Clinton, I support the complete repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act – a position I have held since before arriving in the U.S. Senate," Obama wrote in the letter.
"While some say we should repeal only part of the law, I believe we should get rid of that statute altogether,” he wrote. “Federal law should not discriminate in any way against gay and lesbian couples, which is precisely what DOMA does."
The “pride” section of the Obama campaign Web site also said: "Obama also believes we need to fully repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and enact legislation that would ensure that the 1,100+ federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally recognized unions.”
On July 31, 2008, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told CNSNews.com that she would support Obama in repealing DOMA. (For video click here.)
In July 1996, the Republican-controlled House approved DOMA by a vote of 342 to 67.
Pelosi voted against the bill along with 64 other Democrats.
The bill passed the Senate on Sept. 10, 1996 by a margin of 85 to14.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) voted in favor of DOMA as a senator in 1996.
Though Obama has no power to create legislation alone, The Washington Blade, which is a publication for the LGBT community in Washington, D.C., reported on March 6 that the only openly lesbian member of Congress, Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), plans to introduce legislation that would provide benefits to same-sex partners for all federal employees by the end of March.
According the Blade’, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) plan to introduce a corresponding bill in the Senate.
“The bill would grant the partners of gay federal employees the same benefits that are available to the spouses of straight employees,” reads the Blade.
Neither Lieberman nor Baldwin’s congressional offices replied to CNSNews.com’s requests for comment before this story went to press.