In a speech before a gathering of the Human Rights Campaign, President Obama reaffirmed his campaign pledge to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding gays in the military. But, to the disappointment of some gay rights activists, President Obama failed to specify a timeframe for doing so.
Sunday, on CNN’s State of the Union, Democratic Sens. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan both said they supported the president’s plans regarding gays in the military and hate crimes legislation pending in Congress that would protect gays and lesbians.
“The president is putting the priorities in the right place,” Stabenow told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King about Mr. Obama’s support for domestic partnership benefits for all couples, the hate crimes bill, and repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
But both Democrats said they could not support same-sex marriage, an important part of the civil rights agenda for many gays and lesbians.
Casey told King that he does not support efforts to repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act , a federal law that defines marriage as between a man and a woman for the federal government’s purposes and which also says states do not have to recognize same-sex marriages performed by other states.
Stabenow noted that her state, like some others, has already passed a law prohibiting same-sex marriage.
“So I think for a number of us that becomes a challenge for us in terms of what has happened in terms of voting in our states,” Stabenow told King. The Michigan Democrat did not directly answer King’s query about whether she would vote to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.
In his speech Saturday night, the president also urged Congress to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. But Obama does not support same-sex marriage for gays and lesbians. Instead, Mr. Obama has said that he supports civil unions as a separate legal category for gay and lesbian couples.
In his address to the Human Rights Campaign Obama also urged Congress to pass the Domestic Partners Benefit and Obligations Act, a piece of legislation that would provide federal benefits to the same-sex partners of federal civilian employees on the same basis that traditional married couples currently receive.
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