In a letter to Courage Campaign members, Courage Campaign Chair Rick Jacobs just wrote:
This morning, Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President, called me referring to my conversation with the president to say that today was the day and that Jay Carney would announce the White House's support for the bill.
And if fact the AP reports:
Press secretary Jay Carney made the announcement Tuesday, a day before the first Senate hearing on a bill by California Sen. Dianne Feinstein that would overturn the Defense of Marriage Act.
The bill in question is S.598, The Respect For Marriage Act, which would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, prohibiting the Federal government from recognizing the legally valid marriages of same-sex couples.
This is an unusual occurrence. According to Adam Bink at Courage Campaign's Prop 8 trial Tracker:
the White House rarely, if ever, endorses legislation that hasn't passed a house of Congress -- and this one hasn't even passed committee yet.
So this is excellent news!
The next obvious question then is, given that the President has endorsed the legislation, where is the rest of his Party? Only 29 of 53 Democratic-caucusing Senators currently co-sponsor the legislation or have made public statements of support. And only 119 of 193 Democratic House members are currently co-sponsors of the corresponding House legislation, H.R. 1116
Might we see a few more Senators and Congresspeople 'coming out' in support of the repeal of DOMA before the Senate hearing start tomorrow morning?
Thanks to Scott Wooledge (clarknt67) for these updates:
In respond to a question from Chris Geidner from Metro Weekly, White House Press Secretary has made an unambiguous announcement of the administration's endorsement for Dianne Feinstein's Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.
Metro Weekly: The president has said in the past that he opposes the Defense of Marriage Act, but he is yet to endorse the Respect for Marriage Act, which is the specific piece of legislation --
Carney: Senator [Dianne] Feinstein [(D-Calif.)], yeah.
Metro Weekly: -- aimed to repeal the bill. Tomorrow, the Senate will hold the first hearing into that bill. Is the administration ready to endorse that bill?
Carney: I can tell you that 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. He is proud to support the Respect for Marriage Act, introduced by Sen. Feinstein and Congressman [Jerrold] Nadler [(D-N.Y.)], which would take DOMA off the books once and for all. 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.
Metro Weekly: A follow-up. In line with that, the administration is also still in court defending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." When is -- Tomorrow, also will be three weeks since the President said that certification will come in "weeks, not months." Has the President spoken with Secretary Panetta or Adm. Mullen about the certification since he made that statement, and where does it stand?
Carney: I don't know if the President has had those conversations either with Secretary Panetta or his predecessor or Adm. Mullen. What the president said remains the case and our expectation, but I don't have any more information for you on that.
Human Rights Campaign has issued this statement attributed to Executive Director Joe Solomnese:
“We thank the President for his support of the Respect for Marriage Act. He has repeatedly expressed his desire to see the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act repealed and his Justice Department has taken the historic step of ending its defense of that odious law in court. By supporting this legislation, the President continues to demonstrate his commitment to ending federal discrimination against tens of thousands of lawfully married same-sex couples.”
Freedom To Marry says:
“Freedom to Marry applauds President Obama's strong endorsement of the Respect for Marriage Act and the repeal of so-called ‘DOMA.’ The federal government should not be picking and choosing which marriages it will honor and which it will disregard when it comes to the important federal protections that come with marriage, such as Social Security, health coverage, fair tax treatment, and immigration rights. Congress should follow the President's lead and return the federal government to its traditional practice of honoring all lawful marriages equally – without the 'gay exception' of DOMA.”