The White House has revealed that president Barack Obama is “proud to support” the Respect for Marriage Act, which aims to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act [sic], the federal ban on same sex marriage.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said earlier today: “I can tell you that the president has long called for legislative repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act [DOMA], which continues to have a real impact on the lives of real people families, friends and neighbours.

“He is proud to support the Respect for Marriage Act introduced by Senator Feinstein and Congressman Nadler, which would take DOMA off the books once and for all. This legislation would uphold the principle that the federal government should not deny gay and lesbian the same rights and legal protections as straight couples.”

Until now, President Obama publicly supported the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, but it wasn’t until today that his public support was pledged for the Respect for Marriage Act. In February, he ruled that the federal government would not defend cases brought against it over the Defense of Marriage Act. But his spokesman said in February that the president was still “grappling” with his personal views on the subject of gay marriage.

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, welcomed the statements made today: “He has repeatedly expressed his desire to see the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act repealed and his Justice Department has taken the historic step of ending its defence of that odious law in court.

“By supporting this legislation, the president continues to demonstrate his commitment to ending federal discrimination against tens of thousands of lawfully married same-sex couples.”