Obama ‘grappling’ on gay marriage, Nadler to introduce respect bill

February 23, 2011

President Barack Obama has ordered the U.S. government to stop defending in court the Defense of Marriage Act, a law that bars gay marriage, but his personal views are not so clear.

CALIFORNIA-GAYMARRIAGE/White House spokesman Jay Carney emphasized that there was a distinction between Obama’s personal views and the legal issue.

So what is Obama’s personal view on gay marriage? “I would refer you just to his fairly recent statements on that.  He’s grappling with the issue,” Carney said.

At a news conference on Dec. 22, Obama said: “My feelings about this are constantly evolving.  I struggle with this.  I have friends, I have people who work for me, who are in powerful, strong, long-lasting gay or lesbian unions.  And they are extraordinary people, and this is something that means a lot to them and they care deeply about.”

“At this point, what I’ve said is, is that my baseline is a strong civil union that provides them the protections and the legal rights that married couples have.  And I think — and I think that’s the right thing to do.  But I recognize that from their perspective it is not enough, and I think is something that we’re going to continue to debate and I personally am going to continue to wrestle with going forward.”

Doesn’t sound like a lot of movement between “evolving” in late December and “grappling” today.

Congressman Jerrold Nadler, the senior Democrat on the House Constitution Subcommittee, said he plans to introduce legislation called the “Respect for Marriage Act” to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. Nadler said his legislation would “ensure that committed, loving couples can rely upon the legal responsibilities and security that come with the time-honored tradition of marriage.”

That bill is certain to meet resistance from conservatives in Congress who are quite unhappy with the administration’s decision not to defend the federal law.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, a Republican, called the administration’s decision irresponsible. “This is the real politicization of the Justice Department – when the personal views of the president override the government’s duty to defend the law of the land.”

Photo credit: Reuters/Kimberly White (People rally outside federal courthouse in support of California overturning ban on same sex marriage in San Francisco, June 16, 2010)


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