Frank noted that the original 1996 DOMA was used by Congress in part to put President Clinton in a tough political spot ahead of his re-election race against Bob Dole. Many political observers credited Republican efforts to ban gay marriage on the state and federal level with helping secure President Bush's re-election in 2004 as well. In his memoirs last year, Rove wrote that a 2003 Massachusetts court decision legalizing gay marriage "did affect the 2004 election by motivating culturally conservative Democrats and independents who might otherwise have voted Democratic to abandon Kerry over his wobbly views on marriage."
In his statement on President Obama's decision to abandon DOMA, Cantor revealed how much the tables have turned, calling the move "a clear political exercise by the Administration." A recent poll commissioned by the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group, found a majority of Americans opposed DOMA and backed Obama's position. Other polls have found support for legalizing gay marriage entirely trending rapidly towards a majority -- a recent Pew survey found 46% of respondents opposed to allowing gay marriage versus 45% who back the idea.
"The wedge has lost its edge," Republican strategist Mark McKinnon, who worked on Bush's 2004 campaign, told The New York Times last month.
Other supporters of gay marriage appeared less comfortable with the 2004 comparisons, but were nonetheless quick to point out splits within the Republican Party on the issue. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) said at the press conference that repealing DOMA is "certainly not a political wedge issue," but immediately ticked off a list of GOP figures who now back gay marriage, including Dick Cheney.