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Is the president continuing to evolve on marriage equality? It looks like it. Via the National Journal:

President Obama is throwing his support behind the Respect for Marriage Act - the bill to repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which banned the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage even for couples married under state law. […]

On Wednesday the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the new bill, which would repeal all three sections of DOMA -- which federally defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman -- including section 1, which is the name; section 2, which instructs states not to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states; and section 3, which prohibits the federal government from recognizing legally performed same-sex marriages.

Not only does the Respect for Marriage Act repeal the blatantly bigoted Defense of Marriage Act, but it specifically grants federal rights and protections to gay couples and families living in states that recognize marriage equality:

Under the RMA, same-sex couples and their families would be eligible for important federal benefits and protections such as family and medical leave or Social Security spousal and survivors’ benefits, but the federal government could not grant state-level rights.  The bill does not require states that have not yet enacted legal protections for same-sex couples to recognize a marriage.  Nor does it obligate any person, state, locality, or religious organization to celebrate or license a marriage between two persons of the same sex.  This legislation only requires the federal government to equally apply its policy of looking to the states in determining what legal relationships are eligible for federal benefits.

As Adam Bink points out:

Why is this a big deal? Because 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. It underscores the urgency of this issue, and it also generates huge momentum to our efforts to bring more Senators on board.

Of course, the bill has a long way to go before it becomes law, and it seems unlikely to pass in the current House of Crazy, aka Congress. So add this to the long list of reasons we need to make sure Democrats keep the Senate take back the House next year. Because this could be, in the words of Vice President Biden, a big fucking deal.

(h/t Pam Spaulding)

Originally posted to Kaili Joy Gray on Tue Jul 19, 2011 at 12:33 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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