U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) wants to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act
, which denies gays and lesbians federal legal recognition of marriage. Blumenauer's decision to join with 68 other federal lawmakers to sign onto a bill — the Respect For Marriage Act —that would repeal DOMA may not seem surprising since his east Portland district is very liberal.
But it's actually a reversal from 13 years ago when when Blumenauer voted for DOMA. We've got a call into Blumenauer's office for an explanation but an email from his office (with the subject line "Blumenauer Proud to Change Position on DOMA") stated that "the federal government should not disrespect the laws of the growing number of states who have recognized the right of same-sex couples to marry."
(UPDATE: In an essay he wrote on Huffington Post, Blumenauer calls it the "worst vote of his political career," one driven by the incorrect belief that it would take the steam out of the homophobic right-wing agenda"
The Respect For Marriage Act would allow married same-sex couples who reside in states where their union is legal, to be recognized on the federal level and allow accessibility to benefits like Social Security and hospital visitation for partners. The bill does not make it mandatory for states currently banning gay marriage to legalize or recognize it. Oregon doesn't have legal recognition of gay marriage, though supporters of same-sex marriage plan
to change that.