WASHINGTON -- Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) has signed on as the first Republican co-sponsor of the bill to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.
“I voted against the constitutional amendment defining marriage so I’m pleased to co-sponsor the repeal of DOMA and work with my colleagues on marriage equality,” said Ros-Lehtinen in a statement.
The DOMA-repeal bill, known as the Respect for Marriage Act, now has 125 cosponsors.
Under DOMA, which was signed into law in 1996, states are allowed to not recognize valid same-sex unions performed in other states. Same-sex couples are also denied federal benefits afforded to opposite-sex couples, such as joint filing of taxes, spousal benefits under Social Security and health and pension benefits.
Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), who introduced the Respect for Marriage Act, said Ros-Lehtinen's "support reminds us that the march to repeal the discriminatory DOMA is not a partisan issue. Just as New York showed the nation this summer in its bipartisan embrace of marriage equality, the drive to end DOMA is -- and must be -- a collective, nonpartisan effort that unites Americans behind a simple push for equality. Our coalition grows stronger and larger every day."
R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, also praised Ros-Lehtinen for signing on, noting that she also is a found member of the House LGBT caucus.
"[S]he has been a reliable ally and leader time and again on legislation to secure freedom and fairness for all Americans. Log Cabin Republicans are grateful that she has once again stepped forward as an inclusive leader by co-sponsoring the Respect for Marriage Act," he said in a statement.
Ros-Lehtinen also spoke at the Log Cabin Republicans' Spirit of Lincoln Awards reception in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, where the Advocate noted she was "warmly received."
“As Republicans, we are committed to ensure that the federal government play its proper role. Defining marriage is not part of that role,” read her prepared remarks, which she didn't deliver but released afterward to the press.
Last week, the Respect for Marriage Act picked up four more Democratic cosponsors, including Rep. Brad Miller (D-N.C.), who signed on in response to GOP state lawmakers in North Carolina approving an anti-marriage equality constitutional amendment.
President Obama still does not publicly support marriage equality, although he has given his backing to the Respect for Marriage Act.
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