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Obama opposes laws ‘designed to take rights away’

CHRIS JOHNSON | Washington Blade
Friday, January 13, 2012
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The White House, in response to a Washington Blade inquiry about the possible vote to repeal same-sex marriage rights in New Hampshire, said Thursday night that President Obama “believes strongly in stopping laws designed to take rights away.”

“While the president does not weigh in on every single action taken by legislative bodies in our country, the record is clear that the president has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same-sex couples,” said White House spokesperson Shin Inouye. “The president believes strongly in stopping laws designed to take rights away.”

The statement doesn’t explicitly express support for same-sex marriage or mention New Hampshire. At the same time, the statement doesn’t include language found in previous White House statements on marriage that states should “determine for themselves how best to uphold the rights of their own citizens.” Such language was included in the White House response to the North Carolina anti-gay marriage measure that will be on the ballot in May.

The New Hampshire Legislature is likely to vote sometime this month or in February on repeal of the state’s same-sex marriage law, which Gov. John Lynch (D) signed in 2009. Lynch has said he would veto repeal legislation should it come to his desk, but the Republican supermajority in the legislature may have enough votes to override his veto.

The vote to repeal the marriage law in New Hampshire has become an issue in the presidential race. Both former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry spoke in favor of repeal prior to the primary there.

But each of the candidates who have expressed support for a Federal Marriage Amendment — Perry, Romney, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum — have implicitly backed the repeal of the New Hampshire law because such a measure would prohibit same-sex marriage throughout the country.

Last week, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said he didn’t know the president’s position on potential repeal of the New Hampshire marriage law. The White House statement issued Thursday follows up on his response from that time.

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