The Obama administration will no longer defend a portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that bans federal recognition of same-sex marriages.
Attorney General Eric Holder said President Barack Obama has concluded that the administration cannot defend the federal law that defines marriage as only between a man and a woman. He noted that the congressional debate during passage of the Defense of Marriage Act “contains numerous expressions reflecting moral disapproval of gays and lesbians and their intimate and family relationships—precisely the kind of stereotype-based thinking and animus the (Constitution’s) Equal Protection Clause is designed to guard against.”
In particular, Holder will no longer defend Section 3 of the law that defines what the federal government will recognize as a “marriage” or “spouse.” Section 3 was ruled unconstitutional back in July of last year by U.S. District Court Judge Joseph L. Tauro, in Boston. He ruled that Section 3 violates the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment and “violated the Tenth Amendment and fell outside Congress’ authority under the Spending Clause of the Constitution.”
The Department of Justice appealed the decision in October, but now apparently will abandon that appeal.
It’s good news for supporters of marriage equality, even if the future of DOMA remains unclear. At least we won’t have to read briefs from the DOJ in support of DOMA that compare same-sex marriage to incest and child rape.
It’s bad news, apparently, for those opposed to gays and lesbians getting married. National Organization for Marriage leader Maggie Gallagher blasted the decision on FOX News [and no, that isn’t a typo in the following transcript]:
This is an end-run really around our normal constitutional processes. And we’re going to be seeing a lot more of this by President Obama now that he faces a Republican-dominated Congress. Not only is he refusing to defend the law, but he has unilaterally declared that gay is like black that orientation is subject to strict scrutiny.
Yes, the president had the temerity to undermine the religious right’s biggest talking point against gays and lesbians—that sexual orientation is not like race because they believe gays and lesbians can “pray away the gay.”
This is just one in a long line of victories, or pending victories, for marriage equality. Hawaii and Illinois have passed civil union laws, Colorado and Delaware are considering civil unions, Maryland is on the verge of enacting full marriage rights for gays and lesbians, and Rhode Island is considering such a measure.
NOM and their cohorts have been trying to “pray away the gays” for a long time now, but with the coming advances in gay rights, it would appear that God’s answer may well be, “No.”