I stand by my long-standing commitment to work with Congress to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. It's discriminatory, it interferes with States' rights, and it's time we overturned it.
"I am also proud to announce my support for an important piece of legislation introduced in both Houses of Congress last month -- the Domestic Partners Benefits and Obligations Act of 2009. This legislation will extend to the same-sex partners of Federal employees the same benefits already enjoyed by the opposite-sex spouses of Federal employees. ....
"Extending equal benefits to the same-sex partners of Federal employees is the right thing to do. It is also sound economic policy. Many top employers in the private sector already offer benefits to the same-sex partners of their employees; those companies recognize that offering partner benefits helps them compete for and retain the brightest and most talented employees. The Federal Government is at a disadvantage on that score right now, and change is long overdue.
"As Americans, we are all affected when our promises of equality go unfulfilled. Through measures like the Presidential Memorandum I am issuing today and the Domestic Partners Benefits and Obligations Act of 2009, we will advance the principles upon which our Nation was founded and continue to perfect our Union."
Meanwhile, Aravosis counters that DOMA did NOT prevent actual benefits (you know, like health care?)
Here's why: DOMA prohibits granting benefits based on marriage, it does not prohibit granting benefits overall. Thus, you define a standard that isn't marriage, such as domestic partnerships as defined by, say, the amount of time spent dating, living together, comingling funds, etc. Had Obama simply said we will give health benefits to the domestic partners, straight and gay, of all federal employees, and given a definition of domestic partner that does not include marriage of civil unions, he could have done it.
Interesting theory. THere is some support to this because Federal judges have found (although not by court ruling) that two gay justice department employees are entitled to health benefits; the rulings implied that since the employees weren't married, they could be eligible. Even if it's not true that Obama could have done it NOW, under DOMA and the pending DP act, it sounds like gay couples who legally married in their home states are the only ones that will be ineligible for proper benefits. Inotherwords, marriage will DEPRIVE people of benefits.
I'm afraid at this point, though, talk is cheap. An executive memo (that will expire when he leaves office) that gives people sick leave and long term care insurance, doesn't really count as significant movement. I am expecting some fierce advocating, here, that will make ALL Americans full citizens.
Update: The NY Times has an editorial.