President Barack Obama on Tuesday endorsed a bill that would repeal a ban on federal agencies from recognizing the legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples.

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday will hold a first-ever hearing on repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which was approved during the Clinton administration.

California Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced the Senate version of the Respect for Marriage Act in March, but the bill was first proposed in 2009 by New York Representative Jerrold Nadler. Nadler is the measure's sponsor in the House.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney announced Obama's endorsement during Tuesday's press briefing.

“The president has long called for the legislative repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act,” Carney told reporters. “He is proud to support the Respect for Marriage Act.”

Joe Solmonese, who as president of the Human Rights Campaign is scheduled to testify during the Senate hearing, praised Obama's endorsement.

“We thank the President for his support of the Respect for Marriage Act. He has repeatedly expressed his desire to see the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act repealed and his Justice Department has taken the historic step of ending its defense of that odious law in court.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,” Solmonese said in a statement.

Tomorrow's hearing will be held just days before a gay marriage law in New York takes effect on Sunday. Those marriages will not be recognized by the federal government because of DOMA.

Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, said the exclusions need to end: “The federal government should not be picking and choosing which marriages it will honor and which it will disregard when it comes to the important federal protections that come with marriage, such as Social Security, health coverage, fair tax treatment, and immigration rights. Congress should follow the president's lead and return the federal government to its traditional practice of honoring all lawful marriages equally – without the 'gay exception' of DOMA.”