Wednesday, August 6, 2008

How Gay Marriage Politics Would Change Under Obama - Beyond the Dome

How Gay Marriage Politics Would Change Under Obama - Beyond the Dome

By David Nather | July 31, 2008 5:35 PM
Could gay marriage become an issue again in the next Congress — in a different context?

It seems possible if Democrats keep control of the House and Senate and Barack Obama wins the White House, since Obama wants to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law that bans any federal recognition of same-sex marriages and allows states to refuse to recognize marriages performed in another state.

Obama recently said that the marriage issue should be decided at the state and local level and that his job as president would be to “make sure that the federal government is not discriminating.”

Guess he’s not going to get Dr. James Dobson’s vote. More importantly, though, he’d have the support of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, who voted against the legislation when it passed Congress. It’s not clear how actively she would help, though. When Pelosi was asked at a press conference today if she would support Obama in pushing for repeal, she simply said, “yes” — and quickly moved on to the next question.

Is it the first thing a House speaker would want to put on the agenda for next year? Probably not. But the idea that a repeal of the law could even be on the table shows how radically the politics of gay marriage, under a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress, would change from the days of a Republican president and a Republican Congress.

Remember, it wasn’t that long ago when Senate Republicans were pushing for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage — and always seemed to schedule the votes during even-numbered years. (John McCain, who supports the 1996 law, voted against the constitutional amendment in 2004 and 2006, saying he’d only support it if state initiatives to ban same-sex marriage were struck down by the courts.)

Still, Obama shouldn’t count on much help from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. Reid voted for the 1996 law, a fact that would probably dampen his enthusiasm for repealing it.

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