Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, of Florida, has become the first sitting Republican member of Congress to unequivocally support marriage equality.
Asked by the Washington Blade whether she’s a supporter of same-sex marriage in addition to backing DOMA repeal, Ros-Lehtinen initially expressed confusion about why the question was being asked, saying, “I don’t know why you’re asking that. It’s such a weird way.” But she later affirmed she’s a supporter of marriage equality.
“Oh, yeah, I am,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “I thought you were trying to get some tricky thing here. No I am.”
Her office did not respond to Blade inquiries following up on the remarks.
If you have been following developments on the DOMA repeal front over the past year, Ros-Lehtinen’s support perhaps does not come as much of a surprise.
She of course became the first Republican House lawmaker to sign on to the Respect for Marriage Act. The legislation, which she decided to sponsor late last year, would repeal in its entirety the Defense of Marriage Act that bans the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages and therein precludes same-sex couples from the federally governed rights and benefits associated with marriage.
Ros-Lehtinen has also been the only House Republican to sign a letter petitioning the IRS to re-examine tax rules when it comes to how it treats same-sex couples who, because of DOMA, often face higher tax rates because they cannot file jointly.
During the Washington Blade question and answer session, which was held at the launch of Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry at the Capitol Hill Club in D.C. on Tuesday, Ros-Lehtinen also confirmed that she does support presidential candidate Mitt Romney, but was keen to qualify that support thus: “Well I support him because of his views on the business issues and the economy. There are a lot of issues in which I disagree with Mitt Romney, but there are a lot of issues in which I disagree with members of my family. But I love them all the same.”
Romney has of course pledged to back a federal marriage amendment banning same-sex marriage.