OAKLAND, Calif. -- On the heels of President Barack Obama's announcement that the federal government will no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., issued a statement Wednesday saying that as a Senate Judiciary Committee member, she intends to introduce a bill that would repeal the act once and for all.
The 1996 law defines marriage as a union between and man and a woman.
"My own belief is that when two people love each other and enter the contract of marriage, the federal government should honor that," she said. "I opposed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. It was the wrong law then; it is the wrong law now, and it should be repealed."
Rick Jacobs, founder and chairman of the Courage Campaign -- a progressive grass-roots organization that says it represents 700,000 Californians -- said during a conference call Wednesday that Obama's decision "is a huge victory for equality and justice in the United States."
The Courage Campaign had pressured the Obama administration not to defend these cases, and Jacobs said it launched a social-media effort to thank the president for his decision -- but also to urge him to publicly acknowledge gays' and lesbians' right to marry.
Molly McKay, of Oakland, media director for Marriage Equality USA, issued a statement saying that although thousands of same-sex couples across the nation have legally married, the act "stands in the doorway of recognizing and honoring those marriages and denying same-sex couples access to the 1,138 federal rights of marriage. This injustice cannot and will not stand. ... President Obama's decision restores our faith and our hope that he will be the president who brings our country on par with our allies across the globe and ensures fairness and justice for all its citizens."
Liberty Counsel, a Florida-based conservative law group that has helped to defend California's Proposition 8 against constitutional challenges, issued a statement accusing Obama of putting his own ideology above his duty to defend lawfully passed legislation that already has been upheld by other courts.
"Today, President Obama has abandoned his role as president of the United States and transformed his office into the president of the Divided States," said Mathew Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel.
"He has been the most divisive president in American history. He has today declared war on the American people and the fundamental values that are shared by most Americans. His radicalism resulted in the historical push-back in the 2010 elections. His radicalism today will come back around when the people respond to this betrayal in 2012."
(c) 2011, Oakland Tribune (Oakland, Calif.).
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