Same-Sex Marriage Not a Priority for House Democrats, Pelosi Says
May 6, 2009 - 4:31 PMWhile recognizing that homosexual marriage is a pressing issue in several states and the District of Columbia, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said it is not a priority for Congress.
“Right now on our agenda we are talking about turning the economy around, dealing with an energy policy, health care for all Americans, education. We have an economic crisis of the magnitude none of us have seen in our lifetime,” Pelosi told reporters at a Wednesday press conference.
Her response to the question about same-sex marriage came the same day that Maine became the fifth state to approve same-sex marriage. So far, state courts have sanctioned same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa.
Also, the legislature approved and the governor signed a law on April 7 recognizing homosexual marriage in Vermont.
The New Hampshire and New York State legislatures are considering same-sex marriage laws, while the D.C. City Council voted this week to recognize homosexual marriages performed in states where they are legal – although homosexual marriage cannot be conducted in the District itself.
In Pelosi’s home state, the California Supreme Court ordered the state to recognize same-sex marriage in 2008, but in November, voters approved a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as being between one man and one woman.
“A number of states have passed laws. In California, we are waiting for an initiative that overturned a law in California,” Pelosi said. “The District of Columbia has said it would recognize marriages in other states that are legal. I don’t think the Congress should intervene there any more than we should intervene in New York that made a similar declaration that they would recognize marriages.”
President Barack Obama wrote a letter during last year’s presidential campaign to the San Francisco-based Alice B. Toklas Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Democratic Club stating his opposition to the traditional marriage amendment in California and said he favors the complete repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
The Defense of Marriage Act protects states from having to recognize same-sex unions that are contracted in other states, as they would otherwise be required to do under the Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit Clause.
In March, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that Obama still intends to work with Congress to repeal DOMA.
Pelosi also said last August that she favors the repeal of DOMA.
While Pelosi stressed that the economy, energy, education, and health care take precedence over same-sex marriage in the Democrats’ agenda, she also said, “At the same time, we have a human rights, civil rights agenda.
“We passed the hate crimes bill last week. We always want to expand more opportunity and more freedom. But right now our agenda is jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs,” Pelosi said.