Terry Jeffrey

"I want to congratulate all of you who have shown your love for each other by getting married these last few weeks," Obama wrote. "I support extending fully equal rights and benefits to same sex couples under both state and federal law. That is why I support repealing the Defense of Marriage Act and the 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' policy, and the passage of laws to protect LGBT Americans from hate crimes and employment discrimination. And that is why I oppose the divisive and discriminatory efforts to amend the California Constitution, and similar efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution or those of other states."

To make clear that he wants no distinction in law between traditional married couples and same-sex couples -- including in laws regarding the adoption of babies -- Obama sent a second letter Aug. 1 to the Family Equality Council, a group that says it envisions "a country that celebrates a diversity of family constellations."

"We also have to do more to support and strengthen LGBT families," Obama told this council. "And that's why we have to extend equal treatment in our family and adoption laws."

The federal Defense of Marriage Act that Obama wants repealed does two things. It defines marriage for federal purposes as the union of a man and a woman, and it says states will not be forced to recognize same-sex marriages contracted in other states, as they ordinarily would under the Constitution's "Full Faith and Credit Clause."

The Full Faith and Credit Clause requires all states to recognize the judicial acts of other states but says, "Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof."

If the policies Obama supports come to pass, California will have same-sex marriage, and the federal law protecting other states from recognizing California's same-sex marriages will be repealed.

Then it would be up to the sort of federal judges Obama would appoint to decide whether the Full Faith and Credit Clause -- barring an act of Congress saying otherwise -- would require every other state in the union to accept California's marriage law as their own.

Terry Jeffrey

Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor-in-chief of CNSNews

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