Michelle Obama, wife of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, on Thursday told the Democratic National Committee’s Gay and Lesbian Caucus that her husband wants to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and reverse the rule on homosexuals in the military.
In her speech, she also compared homosexual advocacy groups with the civil rights movement, referring to events “from Selma to Stonewall” as a progression of justice.
Cybercast News Service reports that Michelle Obama began her speech by praising the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down anti-sodomy laws. Because of the decision, she said, "same-sex couples would never again be persecuted through the use of criminal law."
“We are all only here because of those who marched and bled and died, from Selma to Stonewall,” she said. Selma, Alabama was the starting point of a famous civil rights movement, while The Stonewall Inn, a bar in Greenwich Village, New York, was where a 1969 gay and lesbian riot against police officers marked what many believe to be a turning point in the homosexual rights movement.
Michelle Obama said her husband supports “a world where federal laws don't discriminate against same-sex relationships” and he advocates equal treatment for “any relationship recognized under state law.”
“That is why he has said the federal government should not stand in the way of states that want to decide for themselves how best to pursue equality for gay and lesbian couples -- whether that means a domestic partnership, a civil union or a civil marriage,” Obama said to the DNC’s Gay and Lesbian Caucus.
A position paper on the Barack Obama campaign’s website says the candidate wants to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman and also states that a homosexual marriage in one state does not have to be recognized in another state.
The repeal of the federal law could mean that the more than 40 states that have statutory or constitutional bans on same-sex marriage would be required to recognize a homosexual marriage license from another state as a legally binding contract.
The Obama campaign’s position paper also states Obama’s desire to enact legislation that would ensure the “1,100-plus federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally recognized union.”
Lynn Wardle, a law professor at Brigham Young University, told Cybercast News Service it is likely this statement references the federal definition provision that, if so modified, would extend Social Security and other government benefits to same-sex couples. This, Wardle said, could effectively nationalize same-sex marriages.
“If a judge in San Francisco says 'for Social Security purposes, that's the law,' then a trial judge in San Francisco could affect the whole country,” she told Cybercast News Service.
"A marriage is valid where it's performed and valid everywhere, with one exception, if it violates public policy," she continued. "As a political move, this would inevitably mean gay marriage in most states. It's a step in nationalizing gay marriage."
Sen. Obama’s opponent, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, voted for the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. He joined Obama in opposing a federal constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman, saying he believed states should decide on the matter.
McCain supported a 2006 state constitutional amendment defining marriage as a heterosexual institution in his home state of Arizona, but the amendment failed in the November election.