New Hampshire Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen is proving to be a very strong advocate and ally for LGBT rights. Last week, she managed to get the Department of Defense to allow spouses of lesbian and gay servicemembers to attend Yellow Ribbon ceremonies, most of which are mandatory for the service member to attend. She is also taking a stand on supporting marriage equality.
Shaheen, like many Democrats, is finding that her position on marriage equality has changed over time. While she was governor of New Hampshire, she opposed efforts to legalize same-sex marriage in that state, but today, she finds herself dismayed over the push by a small fraction of social conservatives in the New Hampshire legislature who are pushing to end that right. ThinkProgress quotes her as saying “I’m very disappointed with the actions of the legislature — and I’m hopeful that they will not be successful. These people represent the extreme right wing within this country. … I don’t think they represent the majority of the public.”
And she is correct in that assessment. The majority of New Hampshirites support marriage equality at this point, and a strong majority oppose repeal.
As for DOMA, she states that the repeal of DOMA would provide an opportunity for the states to address the issue as that law actually, she believes, “currently acts as a disincentive for states to act independently.” With regards to her own position, she stated that “I do think [marriage rights for gays and lesbians] should be the case in every state. But I also think it’s important for states to decide the issue.”
Shaheen is a co-sponsor for the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal DOMA. This would allow for the federal government to recognize same-sex couple’s legal rights. The bill is not suppose to compel individual states to recognize same-sex marriage. That part of DOMA is likely to go down in the courts as it is unconstitutional for one state to not recognize a legally entered into contract that is recognized by another state.