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By Nicholas Ballasy

7/7/2009 (6 years ago)

CNSNews (www.cnsnews.com)

'I know the president has spoken now very forcefully against the Defense of Marriage Act as being highly discriminatory'.

Highlights

By Nicholas Ballasy

CNSNews (www.cnsnews.com)

7/7/2009 (6 years ago)

Published in Politics & Policy


WASHINGTON (CNSNews.com) - President Barack Obama wants to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and abolish the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy concerning homosexuals in the military, according to Elaine Kaplan, general counsel of the White House Office of Personnel Management.

Kaplan, an open lesbian, spoke with CNSNews.com at the Library of Congress on Tuesday, where she was the keynote speaker at a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month event to celebrate the social contributions of LGBT Americans.

"Well, I'm not sure if there's any legislative proposals right now pending in Congress, but I know the president has spoken now very forcefully against the Defense of Marriage Act as being highly discriminatory," said Kaplan. "So that's pretty much where things stand. He has also committed to doing everything he can to get the Defense of Marriage Act repealed."

The DOMA, signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996, says that no state is obligated to recognize a same-sex marriage, even if it occurred legally in another state and that the federal government defines marriage as being exclusively between one man and one woman.

"I work for the president so I would like to see done whatever he would like to see done," Kaplan told CNSNews.com. "And what he would like to see done is that the Defense of Marriage Act be repealed, the end of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' - after building some support to get that accomplished - and the extension of benefits to federal employees and their domestic partners."

When asked to identify the leading transgender and bisexual contributors to American society, Kaplan declined to name anyone in particular, although she was the key speaker at an event to celebrate Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month.

"Well, there's people all over the country of diverse backgrounds, different sexual orientations," she said. "Some people are transgender, most people are not. And people make contributions irrespective of these kinds of superficial and meaningless distinctions. I'm not going to call out people for you.

"But I can tell you that, you know, we know for a fact, from our common experience, that people come in all shapes, all colors, sexual orientations, sometimes different gender identities, and they all make contributions to our society," she said. "That's what this country is all about."

Kaplan also said she has no position on same-sex marriage.

"To tell you the truth, you are straying beyond my role as general counsel at OPM [Office of Personnel Management]. I'm more comfortable dealing with federal legislation issues and that sort of thing, but I don't really think that I have an opinion necessarily on same-sex marriage," she said.

Through an official statement issued by the White House, Obama declared that June 2009 would be Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month in the United States.

The statement reads: "NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2009 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists."

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CNSNews.com is a division of the Media Research Center, a not-for-profit 501 (c)(3) organization. Like National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting System, CNSNews.com is able to provide its services and information to the public at no cost, thanks to the generous support of our thousands of donors and their tax-deductible contributions.This article is reprinted with permission.



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