Passage of a gay protections bill and repeal of the federal ban on gay marriage are “priorities” for President Obama, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters last week.

“We talked about DOMA a few days ago, ENDA, and other things that are important to build off the progress of repealing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,'” Gibbs said in response to a question from a Washington Blade reporter. “I think those continue to be priorities of the president's and we will certainly work to make progress on those fronts in obviously a much more challenging Congress over the course of the next two years.”

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) would bar workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (transgender protections). The bill enjoyed strong support in the previous session of the House but passage in the Senate remained in doubt.

Repealing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the Clinton-era law that bans federal agencies from recognizing the legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples, however, never appeared to be a Congressional priority.

New York Representative Jerrold Nadler's Respect of Marriage Act was introduced in 2009 and suffered from a lack of co-sponsors.