Rep. Nadler: Obama's 'Taking Supportive Actions' on Same-Sex Marriage

By Elizabeth Harrington | May 8, 2012 | 4:13 PM EDT

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said at the April 14, 2011 hearing that Congress should repeal ‘The Defense of Marriage Act.’ ( Starr)

( – Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday that President Barack Obama has been "taking supportive actions" on same-sex marriage.

At the same time, Nadler said he would let the president "handle his own opinions and political and other considerations." asked the congressman what he thought about President Obama’s continued “evolution” on same-sex marriage after Vice President Joe Biden’s comments on Sunday that he is “absolutely comfortable” with it.

“Well, I’ll let the president handle his own opinions and political and other considerations,” Nadler said.  “I think what’s important about the president’s actions is that he’s taking supportive actions.”

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Nadler continued:  “He’s directed the Justice Department not to defend the constitutionality of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act [DOMA], which I think is unconstitutional, and he’s concluded is unconstitutional so that the Justice Department is not arguing in favor of it in court, that is probably the most important action.  He’s been very supportive of gay rights in many other respects, ending ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ and various other things he’s done.”

The Defense of Marriage Act protects one state from being forced to recognize a same-sex marriage contracted in another state. Thus, although Obama does not formally endorse same-sex marriage, by opposing DOMA, he is advocating a position that would force all states in the union to recognize same-sex marriages from Massachusetts and other states that legally allow them.

“So, I’m the sponsor, as I assume you know, of the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal DOMA, and which the president has also endorsed on this subject,” he added.

“So I’m gratified the president has done what he’s done, I hope he’ll come further in his good time,” said Nadler, Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution. then asked, “But do you think the president should--since he’s been so supportive of the LGBT community--should he go one step further and endorse gay marriage?”

Nadler responded: “Well, from my point of view it’d be nice if he did that, but he’s got to determine all the different considerations, and his own opinions.” followed up: “What considerations would that be?”

“I don’t know,” Nadler said.

Nadler’s comments came following a Capitol Hill press conference with other House Democrats on a bill to "protect" pregnant women in the workplace.

President Obama’s stance on same-sex marriage came center stage after two top officials seemed to publicly endorse the notion over the last few days. Obama has said that he is opposed to same-sex marriage, but has also said his views on the issue are “evolving.”

During an appearance Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press." Vice President Biden said he was “absolutely comfortable” with same-sex marriage.  “Look, I am vice president of the United States of America. The president sets the policy,” he told NBC’s David Gregory.

“I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, and heterosexual men and women marrying one another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties. And quite frankly, I don't see much of a distinction beyond that,” Biden said.

On Monday morning, on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said unequivocally that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry in the United States.

After the comments White House Press Secretary Jay Carney fielded several questions on whether the president’s position has “evolved yet.”

“He has spoken to this. I don’t have an update to provide you on the president’s position. It is what it was,” Carney said.

“The president was asked this and said his personal views on this were evolving,” he said. “The president does have, as you noted, significant support from the LGBT community. That’s because of his unparalleled record of support of LGBT rights.”

Carney also said, “This president has been extremely aggressive in supporting LGBT rights.”

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