- (Photo: Reuters / Jason Reed)
President Barack Obama appeared to take one step closer to officially endorsing same-sex marriage Tuesday by supporting a bill to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.
The bill, which is being introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein in the Senate on Wednesday, aims to overturn the 15-year-old law that denies federal benefits for same-sex couples. Hearings on the law that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman are scheduled for this week.
President Obama is "proud to support" the Respect for Marriage Act, the White House announced Tuesday.
"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."
The Department of Justice defended DOMA in federal court for two years before announcing in February that it would no longer assert the constitutionality of the law.
DOMA was passed by both chambers of Congress by huge margins and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996. Feinstein was one of 14 senators who opposed the legislation.
Alliance Defense Fund lawyer Daniel Blomberg, who serves on the Christian attorney groups' marriage litigation team, said the White House endorsement of the bill is an attack on what many Americans already voted for – traditional marriage.
“This move by the president and certain members of congress is disappointing in that it is attacking that fundamental building block for our society,” Blomberg told The Christian Post. “I see this as an attack on what 84 percent of Congress voted for in 1996 when they passed DOMA, and what 31 out of 31 states voted for when Americans had a chance to vote on this issue.”
“Whether or not this is an endorsement [of gay marriage], which this seems to be very close to being, the fact is that the president is attacking what diverse cultures and faiths have recognized throughout history as the universal ideal, as the best way to promote healthy, natural families,” Blomberg said.
Feinstein said she thinks the public is ready for a change.
"I think eyes have opened. More and more people across this land know people who are gay, who want to have a lasting relationship, who look at marriage as an economic agreement as well as an emotional agreement," said Feinstein, who was a speaker at the National Press Club Tuesday.
The Democratic senator is now one of 27 co-sponsors supporting the repeal, none of whom are Republicans. She said she understands repeal may not happen anytime soon with a GOP majority in the House.
Edward Whelan, who currently serves as president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, testified earlier this year that Obama is knowingly playing political games when it comes to appearing to at first defend DOMA. Whelan expressed doubt that the president who is versed in constitutional law could change his stance on gay marriage 180 degrees because a Massachusetts judge chose to rule in favor of gay couples in two DOMA-related cases.
"This is yet another step in President Obama's stealth campaign to promote same-sex marriage," Whelan wrote in a statement to The Christian Post.