John Koster, a Republican House candidate from Washington state, has acknowledged mistakenly saying that there was no federal law restricting the ability of gay couples to marry.

Koster is among the seven candidates campaigning to win a special election to fill the remainder of Democratic Congressman Jay Inslee's unexpired term. Inslee resigned in March to focus on his gubernatorial campaign.

During a roundtable debate on KING 5's Up Front, Koster said: “There is no Federal Defense of Marriage Act that I know of … Gays and lesbians have a right to live as they choose. They don't have a right to redefine marriage for all of us.”

Congress approved and then-President Bill Clinton signed into law the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996. The law bars federal agencies from recognizing the legal marriages of gay couples.

There are at least 12 lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the law. The Republican-led House took up defending the law after Obama administration officials announced they would no longer defend the law in court. Last week, House lawyers said they would appeal one of the cases to the Supreme Court this month.

“Of course I know there's DOMA,” Koster told The Seattle Times. Expanding on his answer, Koster told the paper that he meant to say that without the Justice Department defending the law, it was an issue left to the states.