Frank Warns of Fallout Over Same-Sex Marriage Bill

Posted September 17, 2009 at 4:23pm

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), one of three openly gay Members and a leading gay rights advocate, on Thursday warned his colleagues that their efforts to advance a bill to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act could hurt them politically.“I do think it can complicate things electorally for Members— supporting DOMA repeal legislation filed this week, Frank said. “People will interpret this as exporting marriage. That could complicate matters.—Frank, whose name is noticeably absent from the bill’s 92 co-sponsors, was referring to the fact that the measure only addresses same-sex marriages, not civil unions or domestic partnerships. Bill supporters say they are focused on removing restrictions on the federal recognition of marriage since domestic partnerships and civil unions differ in every state.Frank has said he won’t endorse the bill because he doesn’t think it is achievable in the near term. Instead, he has adopted the stance taken by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), which is to move first on the aspects of the gay agenda that are likely to pass, such as workplace discrimination and full domestic benefits for federal employees.”The Speaker is focused on legislative items that we can enact into law now, including hate crimes and ENDA. The Speaker has long called for the repeal of DOMA and is very pleased the bill has been introduced. The Speaker looks forward to the day when DOMA is repealed,— Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said.Without Pelosi and Frank behind the DOMA effort, it remains unclear how and whether the repeal would gain traction. But supporters of the measure, sponsored by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), say they are responding to the gay community, which is determined get the ball rolling.“We recognize there are other bills … that are ahead of us in the queue. There’s nothing wrong with that,— Nadler said. “We’re starting the battle; you have to start. We’re not asking that this bill be put on the floor right away.—On Wednesday, the bill’s co-sponsors got a ringing endorsement from former President Bill Clinton, who sent a statement to Nadler to voice his support for the effort. Clinton signed DOMA into law in 1996.“I want to thank Congressman Nadler for his leadership on this issue, and Reps. Baldwin, Polis, Conyers, Lewis, Velazquez and Lee for introducing the Respect for Marriage Act in the House of Representatives. Throughout my life, I have opposed discrimination of any kind. When the Defense of Marriage Act was passed, gay couples could not marry anywhere in the United States or the world for that matter. Thirteen years later, the fabric of our country has changed and so should the policy,— Clinton said.