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Historic: President endorses Respect for Marriage Act; would repeal all of DOMA

NOTE: We should hear the explosions of the heads of professional anti-gays shortly…

Killing DOMA — in fact passing difficult pro-LGBT legislation — really requires the President to step up and use his bully pulpit to urge Congress to take action. To say again that DOMA must be repealed — with a specific bill in mind — is perfect timing with tomorrow’s hearing coming up. Yes he can, and yes he did this time.

The Atlantic:

The president has “long called for a legislative appeal for the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which continues to have a real impact on families,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters at Tuesday’s briefing. He said the president “is proud” to support the Respect For Marriage Act, “which would take the Defense of Marriage Act off the books for once and for all.”

The bill was introduced in the Senate by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).

Via Chris Geidner at MetroWeekly, the relevant part of the transcript:

Metro Weekly: The president has said in the past that he opposes the Defense of Marriage Act, but he is yet to endorse the Respect for Marriage Act, which is the specific piece of legislation —

Carney: Senator [Dianne] Feinstein [(D-Calif.)], yeah.

Metro Weekly: — aimed to repeal the bill. Tomorrow, the Senate will hold the first hearing into that bill. Is the administration ready to endorse that bill?

Carney: 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. He is proud to support the Respect for Marriage Act, introduced by Sen. Feinstein and Congressman [Jerrold] Nadler [(D-N.Y.)], 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.

This would repeal ALL of DOMA:

* The federal definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman;
* The section that allows states not to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states;
* The federal government prohibition from recognizing legally performed same-sex marriages.

Congressman Jerry Nadler:

Today, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), the author and lead sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), lauded President Barack Obama’s direct endorsement of his legislation. Nadler is the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and vice-chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus.

“I am thrilled by President Obama’s endorsement today of the Respect for Marriage Act, legislation which I introduced in order to repeal the discriminatory and cruel Defense of Marriage Act once and for all,” said Nadler. “The President’s unprecedented decision to support this timely legislation sends a powerful message to Members of Congress and to the American people that now is the moment to dispense with DOMA and remove this ugly blight from our legal code. The President has consistently supported repeal of DOMA and, with today’s announcement, in advance of tomorrow’s landmark Senate hearing, he has taken yet another step to make this a reality. On the heels of New York’s advancement of marriage equality last month, the Respect for Marriage Act is more necessary than ever to ensure that all legally married couples are treated the same – and granted the same recognition – by the federal government.”

The Respect for Marriage Act currently has 118 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives. The Act represents the consensus approach endorsed by the nation’s leading LGBT and civil rights stakeholders and legislators, and would ensure that valid marriages are respected under federal law, providing couples with much-needed certainty that they will have the same access to federal responsibilities and rights as all other married couples.

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, will chair the first-ever hearing on the Respect for Marriage Act tomorrow. Rep. Nadler will testify on his legislation.

Other reactions were swift. They are below the fold.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding