President Obama moves closer to supporting same sex marriage
July 20th, 2011
12:17 PM ET

President Obama moves closer to supporting same sex marriage

President Obama is now supporting the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the ban on same sex marriage President Clinton signed into law in 1996. 

"He is proud to support the Respect for Marriage Act ... which would take DOMA off the books once and for all," said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney at yesterday's briefing. "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."

The bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), would erase DOMA's definition of marriage as between a man and a woman.  The Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing on the proposal today - the first, I'm told, on repealing DOMA.

It may seem like an incremental move but one Democratic source I spoke with actually described it as "momentous" because the president has taken a nuanced view on DOMA, calling it "unconstitutional" (as recently as June) but never outright calling for its repeal.
As a presidential candidate Barack Obama only went as far as supporting civil unions.  He has never endorsed same sex marriage, though his view on the position has been "evolving," as he has said, signaling he may change his mind. 

In February the Justice Department announced that it would no longer argue for the constitutionality of the ban on same sex marriage.

But will the Respect for Marriage Act make it to the president’s desk? Unlikely this Congress.  Republicans control the House of Representatives and have said they will continue arguing DOMA's constitutionality in court now that the Justice Department won't.

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soundoff (61 Responses)
  1. rf924

    "By a margin of 32 points (63 to 31 percent), independents favor the repeal of Obamacare, according to the latest Rasmussen survey of likely voters."
    lol...the one thing that Obama claims as a "victory" is overwhelmingly despised by the citizens.

    July 20, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • Todd in DC

      Wrong thread, Dork.

      July 20, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • DENNA

      No one with a brain (or an illness) would be against Obamacare. The independents qualify as brainless since they put us in this mess with their 2010 temper tantrum.

      July 20, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • jean2009

      It is the wrong thread, but: on June 29, 2011-From CNN
      " A federal appeals court in Cincinnati has ruled in favor of the Obama administration and Congress, ruling a key provision in the sweeping health care reform bill passed last year was constitutional. The “individual mandate” requiring nearly all Americans purchase health insurance by 2014 or face financial penalties — was challenged in federal courts by a large number of individuals and groups, saying people should not be forced to purcha a product like health insurance. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit panel disagreed. ”We find that the minimum coverage provision is a valid exercise of legislative power by Congress under the Commerce Clause,” said the three-judge panel on Wednesday, in a 64-page opinion…A key part of the ruling was written by Judge Jeffrey Sutton — a President George W. Bush — appointee and considered a conservative on the court."

      I don't think polls will matter once it is fully enacted. Many people are negative about many things until after the fact.

      Until you or one of those people unfortunate enough to not have health care, and then you are broadsided by a truck might just be one of those people ignorant enough to think you don't need insurance. Which you do.

      If you are one of those people who has health insurance and you think you don't want to help pay for someone else to be able to afford healthy insurance....think again you are already paying for their emergency room care. Do you think doctors and hospitals don't pass that cost on to the insured. They do to the tune of $1000 higher premium for a family of 4. Thanks Denna!

      As a woman married to the same man for 58 years it doesn't matter to me. I've met several gay couples who are better role models, who have made longer commitments to each other, than some of these divorced before we received a thank you for the wedding gift opposite sex couples. I think everyone can grow up, look at things and change their minds over a period of a lifetime. First you have to think the issue through and look at it from another person's point of view.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
  2. BobnLA

    DOMA has one flaw- it contradicts everything this country stands for- equality for all. If straight people have the right to marry, then so do gay. Stop marriage for one group, stop it for all. And this nonsense about it would lead to bestiality and pedophilia- neither is legal for anyone- therefore would remain so.

    July 20, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • Todd in DC

      Beastiality is legal – in Texas. No kidding.

      July 20, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
      • DENNA

        LOL, figures that it would be legal in Texas, if that's really true. They are the ones who want to succeed from the country. Crazy is a crazy does.

        July 20, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
      • Jay in NC


        Even if a state does not specifically proscribe the activity, it may be covered under other aspects of a state’s sex crimes code or even the anti-animal cruelty law.

        I think you comment was just to fan the fires of hate. Otherwise you would have backed up your statement with facts.

        July 20, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
  3. Jake

    he's had so much criticism on this topic, but I for one am trying to understand the timing of it all. it is all in the timing, and I for one am very grateful to this President! thank you, Obama!

    July 20, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • John

      So you are thanking him for almost being for it, after he was against it, after he was for it? At the risk of people calling me a racist – maybe he was good at organizing in the community, but he is not a leader. This is just one more example of why he isn't. And, BTW, I didn't like Bush either – it was because of him we now have Obama.

      July 20, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
      • Alan

        I wouldn't call you a racist, but it does seem like you view issues in black and white. Most issues are complex, with many intricacies, and do not so neatly fall into one category or another. Bush was the knee-jerk opposite – everything was simple; "with us or against us". The reality is that things are nuanced, and a real leader doesn't just react, a real leader learns, adapts, even *gasp* changes their mind.

        July 20, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
      • Jake

        President Clinton put the idiotic laws in place. Bush tried to ammend the constitution, so all in all? Obama is doing better!

        July 20, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
      • DOMA Unconstitutional

        I am thinking...

        The Defense of Marriage Act (Pub.L. 104-199, 110 Stat. 2419, enacted September 21, 1996, 1 U.S.C. § 7 and 28 U.S.C. § 1738C) is a United States federal law signed into law by President Bill Clinton on September 21, 1996 whereby the federal government defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman.

        Main article: Lewinsky scandal
        Clinton's sexual relationship[76] with a 22-year-old White House intern named Monica Lewinsky led to the Lewinsky scandal.[35] In a lame-duck session after the 1998 elections, the House voted to impeach Clinton, based on allegations Clinton lied about his relationship with Lewinsky in a sworn deposition in the Paula Jones lawsuit. This made Clinton only the second U.S. president to be impeached; the first was Andrew Johnson.

        Were we lead by a President that did not know how important it is to be open and truthful to those we love so much? Was he the best fit on this topic as what is to defend qualities of a marriage?

        Just thinking...

        July 28, 2011 at 1:16 pm |

    Evolve already. You appear weak.

    July 20, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
  5. Anita

    And Rev. Wright's words "G-d Damn America" shall come back to haunt all of us! What part of of "Thou Shalt Not" is difficult to understand? HE did not create man & man or woman & woman ~ HE created man & woman. We want HIM to bless this nation yet we defiantly go against HIS word. Sorry folks ~ you can't have it both ways ~ you either serve man or GOD ~ not both! Rots-o-ruck on this one.

    July 20, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • Jim

      Why are people living their lives according to a 2000 year old history book? Doesn't make any more sense then cooking out of a cookbook from the 1700s.

      July 20, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • FrannyMc

      Way to go Anita!! Will you marry me? Yes I am a guy. haha

      July 20, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
    • SpiceGuy

      Well Anita, MY God doesn't feel that way.

      July 20, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
    • Nicholas90

      Too bad this isn't a theocracy, otherwise you'd be right.

      July 20, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
    • Mabatemarco

      Well, then. I guess I serve man.

      July 27, 2011 at 12:51 am |
    • Gina

      I totally agree with you! I have associates who are gay, lesbian and bisexual but don't condone marriage for them as its against the teachings of the Bible. The justice system is going to say there's a separation of powers "religion & government" but they certainly seem to invoke governmental processes in religion.

      I live in California, we voted to ban gay marriage 3yrs ago, it's being fought in court right now. Why? I have no idea because the majority ruled not to allow it in our state, so I guess that means our "votes" mean nothing. Yet, they won't touch our absurb 3 strikes law!

      They said "gay history" has to now be taught in school, I'll be damned before any child of mine sits for that class & has their minds poisoned to think being gay is acceptable & normal. It goes against everything I was taught in Catholic school and church. The world is going to hell in a handbasket.

      July 29, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
  6. FrannyMc

    Sorry Mr. President you just lost another voter and probably your chance for re-election. Marriage is a sacred institution, meant to be between a man and a woman, not between fruitcakes and whack jobs. Can we keep anything in this country sacred? I guess not Mr. Pres. Thanks for making my mind up for me. I'll be voting for whomever opposes you, and doesn't support gay marriage.

    July 20, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • Hmmm

      So you are calling some teachers, policeman, nurses, doctors, fire fighters, soldiers whack jobs and fruit cakes? Please don't be so ignorant as to ignore the fact that many gay people are educated and contributing members of society. In a world where some people estimate that 10 percent of us are gay – I caution you to throwing rocks from a glass house. Someday, someone you love or care about may come out to you. Or worse, they may sense your hateful opinions and supress them which leads to NOTHING good. Please open up that mind a little bit. 50 years from now we will laugh that we even had a debate over including equal rights for all tax paying, law obiding citizens.

      July 20, 2011 at 3:44 pm |

      While I am sure that Marrage is a sacred institution to you and your religious views, there are other people that share different points of view of their own religion. Do they not have the same rights to believe as you do? Marrage has many ramifications that exsit in the realm of government and legal issues, besides, most "fruitcakes and whack jobs" I know of are heterosexual anyway!.......Sorry, you can go back to arguing with your significant other now......

      July 20, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
      • FrannyMc

        Ohhh sorry. Did I say "fruitcakes and whack jobs". I meant "fruit jobs and whack cakes" my bad.. We all had a choice and some just chose the wrong path. My signficant other and I don't argue, life's too short. We're just a couple of very happy heteros.

        July 21, 2011 at 9:59 am |
      • Silas

        Justus Ndiritu Posted on I am a Kenyan graduate in BSc. Physics and Mathematics and have been wtniaig for such an opportunity since I am financially incapacitated and cannot afford my master degree. Is it possible for me to apply for this particular scholarship? Kindly reply.warmest regardsJustus

        August 2, 2012 at 12:36 am |
    • SpiceGuy

      Marriage is a sacred institution... reserved for adults. Based on your comments, you don't qualify you whack job.

      July 20, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
      • FrannyMc

        I'm a whack job Spicy Guy? I guess I know what pole on the fence you're sitting on..

        July 27, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • Anonymous

      What gives you the right to decide who can marry who? they are not hurting anyone all they want is to marry who they love i think its time for equality for will happen

      July 21, 2011 at 1:20 am |
    • Brandon

      Who are you to decide what's moral? You obviously have never taken the time to see the big picture. I could not care LESS what YOU believe marriage should be, especially if you base it on religious beliefs. We have a separation of church and state for a reason. According to your beliefs, women shouldn't have rights, either.

      People like you need to quit using the bible as your logic, because it simply isn't LOGICAL. Guess what, not everybody believes your bible. I certainly don't. But, according to you and people like you, that doesn't matter. I still need to obey it.

      July 24, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
      • FrannyMc

        Brandon calm down dude. Relax and spend a nice evening on the couch with your hubby. Curl up and read a good book maybe playgirl. Nite nite sweetie.

        July 27, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
      • Iuly

        Batmanners Posted on Well, well I googled my oinlne username (using the same one since 2000) and found this Interesting how Batman + Ann Landers gave you this. I don't know what I put together to come up with this, but it stuck and it's something NOBODY ever has, so I don't have to be JohnTheMan231 on one site and JohnTheDude294 on another For a second I thought this entire article was about me

        July 31, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
  7. Mike - dayton, oh

    Sometimes you have to be political in politics. Gay rights has been an incredibly hot-button topic
    the last two presidential cycles. While I would have loved to see him come out with a strong stance
    on this, his incremental approach has been very well played out so far and in a way that has both
    brought results and ultimately better preserved his political capital and standing among independents.
    This has not been easy either. To get to DOMA they had to start with DADT, but in order to that they needed
    the studies and Pentagon support and to do that he had to get the Af/Pak war strategy in order first.
    People complain about the speed at which Obama has moved on some of this, but the truth is between
    he and the democratic leadership they have done a great job tackling the complex legal and political
    challenges of our institutionalized bigotry against gays.

    July 20, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • Goner

      Nicholas Brandt Posted on I'm just glad someone let me be their winmgan. Jessica insists that she's a better winmgan than I am. I imagine were you to go out with the both of us, you'd run Hollywood by the end of the night. Please have a cool writing job for me when you do.=)

      July 31, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  8. Jim

    About time. Obama owes the Gay Community big time and is now figuring out how to apologize for the Rick Warren selection.

    July 20, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
  9. Kelly

    Why doesn't he just take the next step? He is lagging behind on this one, and that is odd for such a progressive president. Democrats and independents have already taken that step. A majority of Americans have taken that step. It seem like he could stir up a lot more enthusiasm and loyalty if he would just freakin evolve sooner rather than later.

    July 20, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
  10. frank54

    It has to pass the congress first, and the congress is controled bt the republican', why the hell can't you people just leave this alone,and just settle for Civil Unions for all, because thats what its going to come down too, this moron is a complete socialist, Its going to be passed soon Civil Unions for all in the whole United States, with the samer benifits of marriage, that means thos states that have a counstition ban, will have to lift the marriage ban completely for gays, and make it civil unions

    July 20, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
    • Marcos

      both of you guys need to seat down and just be honest with each other. for epxmale you could say **** i love you so much, i really want us to work out. I want to do everything in my power to keep are love alive. That is why we need to start talking about are emotions, how we feeling,are problems so we can fix them baby. You know why I want ti fix it babe, its because I love you from the bottom of my heart. I know when I tell you I love you, you think its a normal thing. But i want you to believe it baby every time, I cant see my self with nobody else, but only you. So what do you say you want to fix this . Let me know what happned

      September 10, 2012 at 2:41 am |
  11. Jay in NC

    60% of the African American respondents claimed that they are against gay marriage.

    July 20, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • jean2009

      @Jay in NC....How convenient to use that site for your source....LOL!

      This from a CNN Political Ticker poll for August 10, 2010.

      "In a separate question, some respondents were asked whether the Constitution should (rather than does) give gays and lesbians the right to marry.

      "That's different than asking respondents what they think is currently in the Constitution," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

      In that separate question, 52% said that same-sex couples should have the constitutional right to marry; 46% say the Constitution should not convey that right"

      So that boils down to a different percentage than you quote.

      July 24, 2011 at 10:27 am |
  12. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Let no man stand in the way of another humans rights and if they don't like gay/lesbians then STOP WEARING THEIR DESIGNER SUITS, DRESSES, SHOES, ETC. Yeah, that's right, look at the clothes handing in your closet.

    July 20, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • DENNA

      Love your reply Claudia, Houston, TX. You are, of course, right. It's like people don't eat meat who wear leather.

      July 20, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • Jay in NC

      Sorry but that is a crazy argument, like saying do you think that a Liberal should not drive on a road built by a Conservative?

      July 20, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
    • jean2009

      @Jay in NC, Conservatives do not invest in infrastructure like roads that might cost a taxpayer money. Liberals invest in infrastructure....but Claudia is right, many times (for a noticeable percentage) the gifted, artistic, designer, musician.or playwright is gay.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
      • Jay in NC

        Jean2009 that is funny, and shows just have out of touch you are with your facts.

        July 27, 2011 at 9:28 pm |
  13. TangledThorns

    If they allow gay marriage then I want two wives!

    July 20, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • FrannyMc

      I totally agree 1000%. Just don't tell my wife.

      July 21, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • DOMA Unconstitutional

      Straight marriage and polygamists – Thank you for raising this point. I feel sorry for those that were raised in a culture where they were "taught" that being a straight polygamist family is against the law or unethical. It seems to trigger the word, "unethical" in some cultures. I do not think it is wrong nor right. It is one's freedom to define what his or her family is. I have seen very unsettling straight poly-amorous individuals that are irresponsible with regards "family making and maintaining" . I also know straight polygamous families that are spotless in that regards. If you think and feel that your happiness can only be attained being polygamous, fight for it! I would be happy to support it. By the way, brother, I think you selected the wrong first wife if you are genuinely polygamist. Polygamy and poly-amorous is not the same thing. If you and your first wife (polygamist) believe that the both of you can love another woman just as you love each other, and the second wife truly love the two of you, well, brother, the tree of you were meant to be. There never needs to be any secrets of cheating if the three of you really really love each other. As an outsider, I can not and should not be the one to know if that family you ultimately seek happiness is in wrong motive or not. No one had to vote for straight people to get married. When we fall in love, we fall in love. Straight people never "decided" when and if they are going to be straight, they were just in love with a gender. That applies to any family structure. There is no such thing as "equality" if it only part of the time. If you truly love two women and treat their children equally and if both women love each other as you love them, in other words, if they are bisexual, then why not? I know for a fact that when we truly love each other, we simply love and if that is the foundation of the family, I do not question their right to marry. I just had to make my little comment. I hope I did not offend you. I am glad you posted your feelings here. I had a chance to say something about it.

      July 28, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
  14. FrannyMc

    I don't decide our struggling government does apparently. Can a man and a man procreate? Can a woman and a woman produce a child without artificial means or outside assistance? No and no... Who made things that way? uh God maybe...

    July 21, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • Jay in NC

      So, according to your logic infertile couples can not marry.

      July 21, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
      • FrannyMc

        Listen Gay I mean Jay. My comments are directed toward gay couples not hetero couples. So if you and your hubby take offense to this then I guess my comments are having a positive effect. Peace out girlscout.

        July 27, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
    • Tina

      You are going on and on about "God" this and "God" that, but where did God say it was okay to have 2 wives as you posted earlier. I think it is time for you to stop preaching about nonsense and take a closer look at your own life and leave everyone else alone. Who cares what you have to say or think.

      July 23, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
      • FrannyMc

        Tina I'm sorry if I upset you and you wife. hahahaha

        July 27, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • mediorite

      You should spend more time worrying about that chick I saw your wife with than hanging out with gay dudes on the internet.

      July 27, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  15. mediorite

    "It may seem like an incremental move but one Democratic source I spoke with actually described it as "momentous" because the president has taken a nuanced view on DOMA, calling it "unconstitutional" (as recently as June) but never outright calling for its repeal."

    Not sure how long Ms. Keilar's been a WH correspondent, but she should have checked Teh Googles before submitting her story. The President has been consistently calling for DOMA's repeal since the '08 campaign.

    July 21, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • Marcelo

      just me & you Posted on I do family hisrtoy research. First of all start in the area where she grew up. Start by looking for her Mother Father, siblings. Best friends in school. Then go to your local court house and ask for a marriage license in her name. I also go to face book and enter names.I enter name in the white pages sometime you can find people that way.

      July 30, 2012 at 7:28 am |
    • Alexander

      Posted on Great post Sam.First step is to drop the Best Integrated Campaign' category from atdervising awards ceremonies. Not a great example of integration as a verb' to young planners out there.

      August 1, 2012 at 2:02 am |
  16. jean2009

    According to today's Washington Post the military will certify the end of DOMA on Friday.

    July 21, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
    • mediorite

      That's DADT, not DOMA.

      July 22, 2011 at 9:50 am |
  17. MNBluestater

    People just keep ignoring what our Judeo Christian Muslim texts say–God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. This is about healthy families with a parent of either sex.

    July 23, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  18. kray

    Judge Bork wrote the book "Slouching Towards Gomorrah".....WE ARE THERE.....You folks who think the Lord will continue to standby and allow this to go on ....along with the slaughter of 50 million defenseless babies since 1973......Oh my are you mistaken. Do you really think the state of our economy is an accident? Do you really think Katrina was just an unfortunate incident. Do you think 911 was just a little glitch? God allows or causes all things to happen! For you pseudo-intellectuals that picked up an idea or two in college etc about God and evolution.......if you take everything down to the basics....there is something that started it all. That is a basic concept you can extract from pure LOGIC...philosopical logic. The only answer is God....the only sensible, rational explanation. Then who is God...Jesus was and is real...he said "I AM THE WAY THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE AND NO ONE COMES TO THE FATHER BUT BY ME"....He was not a wussy, hippie looking man...He railed on the scribes and pharisees and told them the truth...YOU HAVE BEEN TOLD THE TRUTH NOW....What are you going to do with it? Get down on your knees and ask His forgiveness and repent...then call on Him to come into your heart......This is the only way my friend...the only way. Yes I am talking to you!

    August 6, 2011 at 6:57 am |