Jeanne Shaheen Comes Out In Favor Of Marriage Equality

Last week, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) won a significant victory for LGBT equality in pressuring the military to include the spouses of gay and lesbian servicemembers in Yellow Ribbon ceremonies. And now, the moderate Democrat from New Hampshire — who has also taken a principled position against the Defense of Marriage Act and voted to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell — is telling the Advocate’s Andrew Harmon that she supports marriage equality in the states and opposes New Hampshire’s efforts to outlaw same-sex unions:

Though she had opposed marriage equality as Democratic governor of New Hampshire, Shaheen praised the 2009 passage of the state’s marriage bill and is now dismayed at the repeal effort by a faction of social conservative lawmakers….“I’m very disappointed with the actions of the legislature — and I’m hopeful that they will not be successful,” Shaheen said. “These people represent the extreme right wing within this country. … I don’t think they represent the majority of the public.

On marriage equality, Shaheen said she believed that DOMA repeal “provides an opportunity for states to address the issue,” as the 1996 law “currently acts as a disincentive for states to act independently.” Asked about her own personal position, Shaheen said, “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 of the Respect for Marriage Act — which would rescind DOMA and allow the federal government to provide benefits to same-sex couples legally married in Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Connecticut, Iowa, and the District of Columbia. The bill would not compel individual states to recognize same-sex marriages, however. The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to mark up the measure on Thursday.