A day before the Senate Judiciary Committee prepares to hold hearing on the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, the Obama administration has endorsed Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) legislation to repeal it. Responding to a question from Metro Weekly’s Chris Geidner, White House Press Briefing, Jay Carney said Obama was “proud to support the Respect for Marriage Act” to “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,” he added.
Obama has long favored repealing the 1996 measure and has instructed the Department of Justice not to defend Section 3 of the law, which prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. But in backing Feinstein’s measure, Obama is also signaling his opposition to Section 2 of the statute, which stipulates that same-sex marriages — unlike heterosexual marriages — shall not be automatically recognized across state lines unless the state has legalized marriage equality or allowed for the recognition of out-of-state marriages between same-sex couples.
Feinstein’s bill currently has 27 Democratic co-sponsors. It would extend over 1,000 federal laws and protections to same-sex couples, including: the right to file joint federal income taxes and claim certain deductions, receive spousal benefits under Social Security, take unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act when a loved one falls seriously ill, and obtain the protections of the estate tax when one spouse passes and wants to leave his or her possessions to another.
Unfortunately the odds of the bill passing don't look so good. But still, it's nice to see the President make a move forward. Now keep it up, Obama.