In a major breakthrough, the first Republican in Congress to break ranks on the Defense of Marriage Act has stepped up:

Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen becomes first Republican to sign onto DOMA repeal bill... "I voted against the constitutional amendment defining marriage [in 2006] so I'm pleased to cosponsor the repeal of DOMA and work with my colleagues on marriage equality," said Ros-Lehtinen, who represents Florida’s 18th district, which includes South Beach, most sections of Miami, and the Florida Keys.

Ros-Lentinen is co-sponsoring the Respect For Marriage Act, which now has 126 sponsors and co-sponsors in the House of Representatives and 30 in the Senate.  That represents 64.4% of House Democrats, 0.4% of House Republicans, 57% of Senate Democrats and 0% of Senate Republicans.  

Susan Collins, are you listening? It's time make history like your House colleague.

Ros-Lentinen may have to endure the wrath of Republican fundies, and might even face a NOM-backed challenge for her seat next year because of this for all I know. But she's been re-elected 10 times and her history on LGBT rights and her district are suggestive of this move:

According to Wikipedia

Her district includes large LGBT populations in South Beach in Miami Beach and in the Florida Keys. She is currently the only Republican member of the LGBT Equality Caucus and is a vice-chairperson. Although she is not a co-sponsor of the Uniting American Families Act, she supports anti-hate crime laws, anti-discrimination bills, believes gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly in the armed forces, is a sponsor of the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act, voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment, and was a founding member (one of only two Republicans) and the only current Republican member of the LGBT congressional caucus. In December 2010, Ros-Lehtinen was one of fifteen Republican House members to vote in favor of repealing the United States military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ban on openly gay service members...

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen... is currently the most senior Republican woman in the U.S. House, and was the first Republican woman elected to the House of Representatives from Florida. She is chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, effective 2011...

Representive Nadler, the sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act, said in a statement:

It is with great joy that I welcome my friend and colleague, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, as the 125th cosponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act... her support reminds us that the march to repeal the discriminatory DOMA is not a partisan issue.  Just as New York showed the nation this summer in its bipartisan embrace of marriage equality, the drive to end DOMA is -- and must be -- a collective, nonpartisan effort that unites Americans behind a simple push for equality.  Our coalition grows stronger and larger every day.

The repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell has provided a powerful meme for repealing DOMA and promoting marriage equality.  For the first time openly gay current servicemembers can be pointed to with pride by those in favor of equality, and the irrefutable argument will be made (applied appropriately to women servicemembers):

This man put his life on the line for his country, and for your freedoms. How can you tell him he doesn't have the right to marry the person he loves? How can you tell him that his legal marriage in another state cannot be recognized by the citizens of the state you live in?

Which Republican Congressperson or Senator is going to be the next? Which one will next stand up for the tens of thousands of LGB soldiers now serving their country and want what every other American wants: equal protection under the law?

Thank you Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen!

Originally posted to jpmassar on Fri Sep 23, 2011 at 08:17 AM PDT.

Also republished by Progressive Policy Zone, Angry Gays, and Milk Men And Women.

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