President Obama reiterated his support for nixing a federal law defining marriage as between a man and a woman just before he signed a repeal of the military's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy.
Obama said that he remains in favor of repealing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which was passed under President Clinton in 1996. He also reiterated his support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would bar employers from making hiring and firing decisions on the basis of sexual orientation.
Obama's comments indicate he will continue to court the gay
and lesbian community during the next two years when Republicans are in
control of the House. He cautioned them that progress will be slower since Republicans are not supportive of most pro-gay-rights legislation.
"I think those are natural next steps legislatively," he said. "I’ll be frank with you, I think that's not going to get done in two years. I think that's — we’re on a three- or four-year time frame unless there’s a real transformation of attitudes within the Republican caucus."
Obama scored what was likely his biggest win with pro-gay-rights advocates on Wednesday when he repealed the military's ban on openly gay service members.
Supporters of repeal had pressured Obama to get rid of the policy ever since he entered the Oval Office. He even encountered protests from activists while on the campaign trail this year, who complained that the administration was dragging its feet on repeal.
Obama is reaching out to core constituencies as the year, and full Democratic control of Congress, comes to a close. He met with representatives of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on Tuesday to reiterate his support for immigration reform.
The president has frustrated some supporters for not coming out in favor of full gay marriage. He told The Advocate, however, that his views might change.
“Like a lot of people, I'm wrestling with this,” he said. "I've wrestled with the fact that marriage traditionally has had a different connotation. But I also have a lot of very close friends who are married gay or lesbian couples.”