Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) couldn’t be more excited to see the White House come around on the Defense of Marriage Act, which he said was the right move legally and politically.
“It’s great news,” Frank, who is openly gay, told TPM over the phone. “Particularly after DADT repeal, this is a further expression of his commitment to doing away with discrimination.”
The Department of Justice announced on Wednesday that it would no longer defend parts of DOMA that restrict the federal government from recognizing gay marriages in states where such unions are legal.
Frank said he recommended to White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley in a meeting last week that the Administration drop its support for DOMA.
“I got some indication they were thinking about their position and I urged them to go ahead with it,” he said. “I thought there would be no political problem. People who will be angry at the President over this won’t vote for him anyway.”
He added that he believed gay issues were losing their cachet even among social conservatives.
“They are deemphasizing LGBT issues and putting all the energy into the abortion issue,” he said. “For example, in this budget we just had where every very conservative idea was put in, no amendment was put in saying don’t implement repeal of DADT. They are, I think, soft peddling their opposition to LGBT rights because it’s finally dawned on them first that young people think this is nonsense, but also that lots of people in America have friends and relatives who are gay and lesbian.”
He even suggested the Administration’s interpretation would mesh well with Tea Partiers’ small government ideals, since it allows the federal government to recognize gay marriages in states where it they were legally performed, but not require state governments that still outlaw same-sex unions to do the same.
“That should have appeal to some of the Tea Party people with their states rights message,” he said. “In this case they’re not saying there is a constitutional right to marry in general.”
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.