Federal Government Drops Defense Of Anti-Gay Marriage Law

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a major policy reversal, the Obama administration said Wednesday it will no longer defend the constitutionality of a federal law banning recognition of same-sex marriage.

   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.”

   The Justice Department had defended the act in court until now.

   “Much of the legal landscape has changed in the 15 years since Congress passed” the Defense of Marriage Act, Holder said in a statement. He noted that the Supreme Court has ruled that laws criminalizing homosexual conduct are unconstitutional and that Congress has repealed the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

   At the White House, spokesman Jay Carney said Obama himself is still “grappling” with his personal view of gay marriage but has always personally opposed the Defense of Marriage Act as “unnecessary and unfair.”

   Holder wrote to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, that Obama has concluded the Defense of Marriage Act fails to meet a rigorous standard under which courts view with suspicion any laws targeting minority groups who have suffered a history of discrimination.

   The attorney general said the Justice Department had defended the law in court until now because the government was able to advance reasonable arguments for the law based on a less strict standard.

   At a December news conference, in response to a reporters’ question, Obama revealed that his position on gay marriage is “constantly evolving.” He has opposed such marriages and supported instead civil unions for gay and lesbian couples. The president said such civil unions are his baseline — at this point, as he put it.

   “This is something that we’re going to continue to debate, and I personally am going to continue to wrestle with going forward,” he said.

   On Wednesday, Holder said the president has concluded that, given a documented history of discrimination against gays, classifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to a more heightened standard of scrutiny than the department had been applying in legal challenges to the act up to now.

   The attorney general said the department will immediately bring the policy change to the attention of two federal courts now hearing separate lawsuits targeting the Defense of Marriage Act.

   One case, in Connecticut, challenges the federal government’s denial of marriage-related protections for federal Family Medical Leave Act benefits, federal laws for private pension plans and federal laws concerning state pension plans. In the other case in New york City, the federal government refused to recognize the marriage of two women and taxed the inheritance that one of the women left to the other as though the two were strangers. Under federal tax law, a spouse who dies can leave her assets, including the family home, to the other spouse without incurring estate taxes.

   (Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

Comments

One Comment

  1. simplysarastic says:

    Not like it took a rocket scientist to figure out that the world and the USA are going to hell in a hand basket. I guess we should have expected this… Obama doing whatever he can to get as many votes as possible for 2012. How do all you Dems like your “change”? GENIUS IDEA ALERT: How about our President start focusing more on the economy and less on everything else! Worst president in my lifetime.

    1. sally says:

      Worst President is Geo Bush and his admin they all should be locked up and the key thrown away What an Fin crook they all were they were the ones that got us in to this mess Do not Blame Obama

      1. simplysarcastic says:

        Lol, yeah because 1 president can take down an entire nation in 8 years. Someone needs to take their head out of the sand. Bush had a lot to do with it but then Obummer comes along and had the great idea of throwing billions of dollars at a debt with the expectation of getting out of a financial mess. It’s been 3 years since obummers been in office at what point will you start to realize that hes not the change you all hoped for? Not to mention obummercare!

      2. simplysarcastic says:

        LMAO, yeah because 1 president can take down an entire nation in 8 years. Someone needs to take their head out of the sand. Bush had a lot to do with it but then Obummer comes along and had the great idea of throwing billions of dollars at a debt with the expectation of getting out of a financial mess. It’s been 3 years since obummers been in office at what point will you start to realize that hes not the change you all hoped for? Not to mention obummercare!

    2. Dan Iles says:

      First of all, if you think that the president should concentrate solely one one aspect of running a nation, YOU are the one with your head in the sand. If the economy was all he worried about, the US would already be in hell. Foreign policy, military forces in other countries, immigration, and counter-terrorism should all be put on a back burner? I think not. Secondly, this dropping of the defense of the anti-gay marriage law is a step in the right direction. I am a tax paying citizen, a veteran of the US military, and a man that is unable to marry the person I love. I spent years defending this country along with the rights and libterties that you take for granted just to be told that my rights are unequal to yours. And thats fair? We all have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Why should the happiness of marriage be denied? You also sarcastically implied that one president cannot take down an entire country in 8 years; however, you EXPECT the new president to turn an entire nation around in 3. You are a walking contradiction. Though I may not agree on some of the president’s decisions, at least he is taking action and not just sitting back and watching the world crumble. You are only one of the 300+ million people in this country and though this change may not affect you, it does affect many many others. The egocentricities of some people really get under my skin. I would love to know how you would turn this economy around in less than 2 years. If you could do it, maybe you should run for president. You couldnt do any worse than GWB.

    3. Diego P. says:

      Part of bein a president means to have a global focus on many demanding topics which affects society in general so do not underestimate issues as for many others might be something really positive, don’t you think so?

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