Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed's office has suggested he will co-sponsor a bill that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the 1996 law that forbids federal recognition of the legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples.

Gay marriage advocates on Tuesday began courting Reed with a petition campaign.

“You have a consistent record of supporting LGBT Rhode Islanders and we know that you are committed to doing what's right for all families,” the petition reads. “Thousands of loving same-sex couples in Rhode Island have legally wed or plan to, and are committed to sharing their lives and building a family together. They need access to the same safety net and security that other families are afforded by the federal government. On behalf of the majority of Rhode Islanders who support the freedom to marry, we respectfully ask that you join your colleague, Senator Whitehouse, in co-sponsoring the Respect for Marriage Act.”

Reed spokesman Chip Unruh said in an email Wednesday that the senator's “strong record of supporting equal protections” includes opposition to constitutional amendments that define marriage as a heterosexual union, the Providence Journal reported.

On Thursday, Reed said he was looking into the issue.

“Well I'm looking very carefully at it,” he told WRNI radio. “It's a critical issue of public policy. I think it merits a careful study and that's what I'm doing and I'm going to do it quickly so that I can come to a conclusion.”
The bill has attracted 30 co-sponsors in the Senate and 125 in the House, including Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the first Republican to support the proposed legislation. Gay marriage foes have condemned Ros-Lehtinen's decision.

(Related: Obama reiterates support for repeal of DOMA.)