Obama Administration Continuing to Support DOMA
August 17, 2009 by Editor
Today the Obama Administration filed court papers saying the Defense of Marriage Act does discriminate against same-sex couples, but… the Justice Department is continuing to defend the law that prevents married same-sex couples from having their unions recognized by the federal government.
President Obama hasn’t changed his policy, but he is softening his tone. Today, the Department of Justice filed a response to a legal challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act for the second time since Obama took office.
When DOJ first did this, its brief was full of rhetoric that appeared to supporters to be over-the-top and anti-gay. The White House — and the Justice Department — seemed to have taken the criticisms to heart. Their challenge in this case defends the idea that the government must defend constitutional laws — even wrong-headed ones, but notes that the Obama administration opposes the substance of the policy.
The White House issued a rare statement in the name of Obama himself and distributed it to gay rights groups:
“This brief makes clear, however, that my Administration believes that the Act is discriminatory and should be repealed by Congress. I have long held that DOMA prevents LGBT couples from being granted equal rights and benefits. While we work with Congress to repeal DOMA, my Administration will continue to examine and implement measures that will help extend rights and benefits to LGBT couples under existing law.”
Equality California had this to say in response:
“Although we are pleased that the Obama Administration has stated that DOMA is discriminatory and that same-sex couples are as good parents as heterosexual couples, we are troubled by the Obama Justice Department saying that discrimination based on sexual orientation does not raise serious constitutional issues and that such discrimination is rational,” Kors said. “Discrimination against same-sex couples is never rational, and laws that discriminate must be reviewed carefully to ensure that the majority’s animus toward lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is not the motive.”