Today, President Barack Obama said that he supports repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act by publicly endorsing the Respect for Marriage Act.
White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters about the administration's decision. Carney said:
The president has long called for the legislative repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. He is proud to support the Respect for Marriage Act.
Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry responded to Obama's endorsement in a release, reiterating their own support for the bill.
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.
Rick Jacobs, chair of the Courage Campaign, also responded to the news in a release:
It is rare that a White House endorses a bill that has yet to pass first in either the Senate or the House. President Obama's decision to do so underscores the urgency with which the Defense of Marriage Act must be repealed. His support makes clear to all Americans that the Defense of Marriage Act has no place in our society.
Obama has not yet publicly supported marriage equality.
Update: Additional Responses to Obama's Support for RMA (Press Releases):
Sen. John Kerry, one of only 14 U.S. senators who voted against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, responded:
Today's announcement from the White House is a historic signal that momentum is growing to end the era of DOMA. Last year we finally repealed 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' ending an era that one day will seem as antiquated as the days before President Truman desegregated the military. When we pass the Respect for Marriage Act, so too will the era of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act seem anachronistic in a country where we don't believe there should be any second class citizens.
Winnie Stachelberg of The Center for American Progress:
DOMA is a flagrantly discriminatory law that serves no good, rational, or useful purpose. It denies rights to gay couples and their families simply because of their sexual orientation. Passage of the RMA would represent a huge leap forward on the path toward full equality for same-sex couples in the United States. The administration's support of the RMA is important and greatly welcomed.
Rea Carey of The National Gay & Lesbian Task Force:
President Obama did the right thing today by announcing his support of the Respect for Marriage Act. In doing so, he joins the large and growing chorus urging for an end to DOMA, a discriminatory, unjust and far-reaching law. There is no sound defense of the indefensible DOMA, which singles out and selectively denies fundamental rights to legally married same-sex couples. We thank the president for his support on the eve of the historic congressional hearing to repeal DOMA. We thank him and the many House and Senate members who recognize that DOMA has no place on the books and support its full, swift repeal. DOMA has only served to belittle our country's deeply held values of freedom and fairness. It has only served to hurt families, not help. This must end now.