July 20th, 2011
12:17 PM ET
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.
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.