Obama backs Defense of Marriage Act repeal

Amanda Seitz Contributor
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Foreshadowing a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the Defense of Marriage Act, the White House today announced President Barack Obama’s endorsement for repealing the 1996 law.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced the “Respect for Marriage Act,” which would effectively repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. President Clinton signed DOMA into law, leaving U.S. states free to disregard gay marriages performed outside their borders.

“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,” White House Press Secretary said during Tuesday’s presser.

Feinstein formally announced her introduction of the bill during an event at the National Press Club Tuesday. She was one of only fourteen senators to oppose DOMA when it passed in 1996.

“I thought, even then, ‘it’s not constitutional,’” Feinstein said. “Marriage is a matter of state law, divorce is a matter of state law … the single exception is the Defense of Marriage Act.”

By the time of Feinstein’s speech, Obama had not yet formally announced his decision to support the legislation. But Rick Jacobs, the founder of the Courage Campaign, a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender alliance, said he believes the bill had the president’s support.

“He told me at one point that he would, indeed, support this legislation,” Jacobs said. (Obama whacks GOP Cut, Cap, Balance plan)

The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to hear testimony concerning the Respect for Marriage Act tomorrow. Feinstein said the bill has the support of 29 senators, and that 10 out of 10 democrats on the judiciary committee support the legislation.

“This is not a cause which we are going to drop,” Feinstein said. “If we don’t succeed this session, we try again next session. If we don’t succeed next session we will try again the following session.”