Two major gay political organizations have announced that U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami has become the first Republican co-sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act.
From Freedom to Marry:
Today, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen announced that she would be the first Republican member of Congress to cosponsor the Respect for Marriage Act (H.R. 1116), sponsored by Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act.
"Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's support for this important bill confirms that equal respect for all marriages is a bipartisan, mainstream value,” said Evan Wolfson, founder and President of Freedom to Marry, the campaign to win marriage nationwide. “Working with Representatives Ros-Lehtinen and Nadler, and the Respect for Marriage Act's 124 co-sponsors, Freedom to Marry will continue to make the case to Republican and Democratic members of Congress that it's time to return the federal government to its proper role of honoring all marriages legal in the states -- without a gay exception."
Freedom to Marry’s bipartisan lobby team met with Ros-Lehtinen’s office in July along with the Log Cabin Republicans. The meeting was part of Freedom to Marry’s national campaign effort to make the case on Capitol Hill, inside the Beltway, and throughout the country that the freedom to marry is a mainstream American cause rather than a partisan one. The campaign is geared toward growing public support and helping to create an environment for Congress or the U.S. Supreme Court to dismantle discrimination in marriage.
“Freedom to Marry has two goals in our GOP lobbying work – enlisting the first Republican cosponsors on the Respect for Marriage Act, and educating GOP members of Congress about why same-sex couples want to marry and the harms of DOMA,” said Freedom to Marry National Campaign Director Marc Solomon. “Since we embarked on this effort several months ago, Freedom to Marry’s bipartisan lobby team has met with more than a dozen GOP House members. Each of them has told us that they'd never been engaged directly on this matter before and they have welcomed the conversation."
To grow support in DC, Freedom to Marry, in addition to direct congressional visits, is hosting salons with DC opinion leaders including GOP operatives and right-of-center thought-leaders to generate conversations about the political and moral case for the freedom to marry.
Rep. Ros-Lehtinen will become the unprecedented 124th cosponsor on the bill, surpassing last Congress’s total of 120 cosponsors.
Log Cabin Republicans have also issued a statement:
Log Cabin Republicans thank long-time ally and pro-equality champion Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen for becoming the first Republican member of Congress to co-sponsor the Respect for Marriage Act.
"Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has long been on the frontlines in fighting for human dignity at home and abroad. As a founding member of the House LGBT Equality Caucus she 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,” said R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director. “Marriage is a fundamental right of all Americans. The so-called Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) is an offense to the core conservative principles of liberty and federalism. It has been repudiated by its author, former Congressman Bob Barr (R-GA), and is rejected by a growing majority of Americans. It is time that our law respected all marriages. There is much work to be done to make that dream a reality, but with Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen’s leadership, marriage equality is on the horizon.”
Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen said, “I’m pleased to join the Log Cabin Republicans in our fight for marriage equality. I co-sponsored the repeal of DOMA because I firmly believe that equality is enshrined in our constitution and in our great democracy.”