Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Tuesday announced a bill that would end the federal law that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. Later the White House said it backed the California lawmaker's Respect for Marriage Act.
Feinstein's announcement precedes a Wednesday hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee that will discuss repealing all three sections of 1996's Defense of Marriage Act, which says marriage is a "legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife".
"I think eyes have opened," Feinstein told the National Press Club on Tuesday.
"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 one of 14 senators to vote against DOMA.
"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," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters on behalf of President Obama, who has recently said that his stance on same-sex marriage is "evolving".Also evolving is former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who recently said the GOP should also move past the gay marriage debate.
"I think the Republican Party would be well advised to get the heck out of people's bedrooms and let these things get decided by states," Giuliani told Candy Crowley on Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."
Giuliani, who says he is against same-sex marriage, sees "more harm, however, by dwelling so much on this subject of gays and lesbians and whether it's right or wrong in politics."
DOMA, which was signed into law by President Clinton, prevents legally married same-sex couples from filing joint federal income taxes while claiming certain deductions, receiving spousal benefits under Social Security, taking unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act when a loved one falls seriously ill, and obtaining the protections of the estate tax when one spouse dies and wants to leave his or her possessions to the other.
Political Commentary From Andrew Malcom