A second sitting House Republican has publicly broken ranks with the mainstream of his party on the issue of same-sex marriage, announcing that he will co-sponsor the Respect for Marriage Act which would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act that currently bans federal benefits from going to married same-sex couples in the US.
New York House of Representatives member Richard Hanna made the announcement in a statement to The Advocate on Friday.
‘New York State allows all its citizens the freedom to marry the person they love,’ Hanna wrote.
‘Under the Tenth Amendment, the federal government has a Constitutional responsibility to respect New York’s right to set its own laws. It’s my job to see that it does.’
‘This legislation does not tell states who can be married or who must be treated as married, nor does it require any religious institution to violate their own convictions.’
‘The simple fact remains that the federal government has a responsibility to ensure all legally married couples are treated equally under federal law.’
Hanna’s public support for the Respect for Marriage Act comes just days after failed Republican presidential race candidate and former Speaker of the US House of Representatives Newt Gingrich said that same-sex marriage was inevitable in the US and that Republicans will have to find ways to adjust to that.
Gingrich was the last major contender to drop out in the race to become the Republican’s 2012 presidential candidate which resulted in the Romney/Ryan ticket which lost to incumbent US President Barack Obama.
Hanna is one of only three Republican members of the Democrat dominated Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus.
One of these, Rep. Nan Hay, has backed the provision equal health benefits and tax status to same-sex couples but has stopped short of supporting the Respect for Marriage Act.
The other, Florida member of the House of Representatives, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, became the first to sign on in support of the Respect for Marriage Act in September of 2011.