By Kerry Eleveld
Originally published on Advocate.com October 16 2009 1:20 PM ET
In response to an inquiry from The Advocate, the White House sent the following statement regarding President Barack Obama’s position on same-sex relationship recognition voter referenda in Maine and Washington.
“The President has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same-sex couples, and as he said at the Human Rights Campaign dinner, he believes ‘strongly in stopping laws designed to take rights away.’ Also at the dinner, he said he supports, ‘ensuring that committed gay couples have the same rights and responsibilities afforded to any married couple in this country.’"
Maine’s Question 1 asks voters whether to overturn a law that legalized same-sex marriage earlier this year; Washington's Referendum 71 asks voters to affirm or repeal a law passed earlier this year that expands domestic-partnership rights for same-sex couples and some senior couples. Voters in both states will weigh in on the measures November 3.
The White House statement could help LGBT activists fighting to defeat Maine's antigay measure, as Obama's approval ratings continue to flourish there -- a new poll this month found that 58% of Maine voters approve of the president's job performance. A late September poll put his approval ratings in Washington slightly lower, at 53%.
President Obama supports civil unions over full marriage equality for same-sex couples, but he has increasingly walked a fine line on the issue now that six states have legalized same-sex marriage. The president has also said that he believes states should have the right to determine the question of marriage, and as such he supports full repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits the federal government from recognizing legal same-sex marriages. His administration, however, continues to defend the law in the courts.