MIAMI — Florida U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has signed onto a new effort to repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.

The bill's sponsor, Brooklyn Democrat U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, says Ros-Lehtinen is the first Republican to do so. He hopes her voice will convince other GOP lawmakers.

Under current law, the federal government recognizes only marriages between men and women. That means even same sex couples who wed in the six states that have legalized gay marriage can't enjoy federal marriage benefits like tax breaks, social security and hospital visitation rights. The bill would return the definition of marriage to the states.

Nadler filed it in March. Ros-Lehtinen became the 125th co-sponsor Friday. Ros-Lehtinen is chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Her district includes an influential gay community.


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