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DOMA repeal bill gets White House backing

For the first time, a bill to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act has White House support.

Yesterday the Obama administration announced its support for the Respect for Marriage Act, legislation filed by California Sen. Dianne Feinstein that would wipe the federal law barring recognition of same-sex marriages off the books, the Washington Post reports. The bill would amend the U.S. Code to provide that, for federal purposes, “an individual shall be considered married if that individual’s marriage is valid in the State where the marriage was entered into.”

The endorsement is the most direct opposition the White House has expressed toward DOMA. In February, the Justice Department announced that it would no longer defend constitutional challenges to Section 3 of the law, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman. Feinstein’s proposed legislation would repeal the law in its entirety – including Section 2, which allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions.

“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,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney, according to Metro Weekly. “[DOMA] continues to have a real impact on the lives of real people – our families, friends and neighbors.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold its first hearing on the legislation today.

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