The efforts to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) received support from a Republican member of the House of Representatives on Friday.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who represents sections of Miami, including South Beach, announced her support of the bill, joining 124 other House Democrats as a co-sponsor.
“I voted against the constitutional amendment defining marriage [in 2006] so I’m pleased to co-sponsor the repeal of DOMA and work with my colleagues on marriage equality,” Ros-Lehtinen told The Advocate, a pro-homosexual publication.
The Florida congresswoman has long been a supporter of gay and lesbian rights and advocated for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that was lifted just this week. She said she is supporting the DOMA repeal bill "because I firmly believe that equality is enshrined in our Constitution and in our great democracy."
The Log Cabin Republicans, an organization of homosexuals who support GOP issues, issued a statement commending Ros-Lehtinen’s actions.
“It is time that our law respected all marriages. There is much work to be done to make that dream a reality, but with the congresswoman’s leadership, marriage equality is on the horizon,” executive director R. Clarke Cooper said in a statement.
“Marriage is a fundamental right of all Americans,” Cooper said. “The so-called Defense of Marriage Act is an offense to the core conservative principles of liberty and federalism. It has been repudiated by its author, former Congressman Bob Barr (R-Ga.), and is rejected by a growing majority of Americans. It is time that our law respected all marriages.”
DOMA was enacted in 1996 during the Clinton administration and it defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman.
While the repeal bill may garner attention, the chances of it passing the Republican-controlled House in an election year are slim, especially since the GOP sees an opportunity to make President Obama a one-term president. Although Obama has signaled his support of same-sex marriage because of political reasons, he has yet to endorse the bill and according to most political analysts, he most likely will not come forward on the issue of homosexual rights.
Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who leads the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote a stern letter to President Obama asking the administration to end its campaign against DOMA. Archbishop Dolan and the other bishops are concerned the White House is equating same-sex marriage with civil rights. Such a comparison, they fear, could lead to discrimination against believers and church agencies that choose not to accommodate the adoption of children by homosexual couples.
"My predecessor, Cardinal Francis George, OMI, and I have expressed to you in the past our strong disappointment about the direction your Administration has been
moving regarding DOMA. Unfortunately the only response to date has been the intensification of efforts to undermine DOMA and the institution of marriage," he wrote in his letter dated Tuesday.
He expressed particular concern over the administration's decision earlier this year to stop defending DOMA in court and its subsequent attack against DOMA's constitutionality. In July, the Department of Justice filed a brief in Golinski v. U.S. Office of Personnel Management, arguing that DOMA should be struck down as a form of sexual orientation discrimination.
“The administration’s failure to change course on this matter will … precipitate a national conflict between church and state of enormous proportions and to the detriment of both institutions."
The Christian Post attempted to contract the National Organization for Marriage but was unable to get a response prior to publication.