President Obama has endorsed a new bill by Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California to repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act, another step in what the president has termed his "evolving" views on same-sex marriage.
"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 Jay Carney said Tuesday. "He is proud to support the Respect for Marriage Act."
Opponents of same-sex marriage said they were disappointed, but not surprised. The Defense of Marriage Act, passed by Congress in 1996 and signed into law by President Clinton, defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman, denies federal benefits to same-sex married couples and allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages granted in other states.
"There is zero chance that Congress is going to repeal [the law] anytime soon, so this is primarily political theatrics on President Obama's part," said Maggie Gallagher, chairwoman of the National Organization for Marriage, an advocacy group that opposes gay marriage.
The announcement is one of the president's bolder moves regarding gay marriage. In the past, he has voiced support for civil unions for gay couples, but stopped short of supporting same-sex marriage.