Dept. of Justice defends DOMA, Obama wants it overturned

President Barack Obama. Credit: White House, Pete Souza
President Barack Obama. Credit: White House, Pete Souza


Although the Department of Justice filed a brief defending the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) last week, the Obama administration has made it clear that promoting same-sex “marriage” will be an important focus of its political agenda.

Last Friday, the Department of Justice filed a brief to dismiss a federal lawsuit brought against DOMA, an act that allows states that limit marriage to a man and a woman to be exempt from recognizing homosexual “marriages” from other states. The act had been challenged by a gay couple in California who claimed that it had violated their rights.

In its brief, the Department of Justice stated that the question at hand was not one of “whether a same-sex couple may marry within the United States,” a matter determined by individual state legislation. Instead, the brief said, the case was a matter of “whether the federal government and State governments that do not recognize gay marriage should be constitutionally required to extend to them the benefits and privileges that they extend to traditional marriage.”

In examining this question, the Justice Department found that “there is no constitutional right to State or federal financial benefits,” and it therefore labeled DOMA a “valid exercise of Congress’ power.”

Furthermore, the Department of Justice noted that “while the Supreme Court has held that the right to marry is 'fundamental,' that right has not been held to encompass the right to marry someone of the same sex.”

The Justice Department brief closed by saying that the law draws a line “between different types of State-recognized marriage” and “the fact [that] the line might have been drawn differently is a matter for legislative, rather than judicial, consideration.”

This possibility of legislative action also drew attention from the Department of Justice as they defended their brief. Tracy Schmaler, a Department of Justice spokeswoman, told the Wall Street Journal that, “Until Congress passes legislation repealing the law, the administration will continue to defend the statute when it is challenged in the justice system.”

According to White House spokesman Shin Inouye, the Obama administration is committed to repealing DOMA on through legislative means. “The president remains strongly committed to signing a legislative repeal of DOMA into law,” Inoyue stated.

Nevertheless, the brief drew angry responses from the homosexual community, including withdrawal of financial support for the administration, and a scathing letter from Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese, protesting the brief and calling on Obama to “send legislation repealing DOMA to Congress.”

In response to the outcry, John Berry, Obama's director of the Office of Personnel Management and the highest ranking openly homosexual official in the Obama administration, reinforced the president’s commitment to the gay agenda on Sunday.

In an interview with the Advocate, a gay publication, Berry outlined the Obama administration’s “four broad legislative goals,” which include the extension of “hate crimes” to include those against gay and transgendered individuals, securing the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), repealing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that prohibits gays from serving openly in the military, and repealing DOMA.

“The pledge and the promise is that, this will be done before the sun sets on this administration,” vowed Berry. “Our goal is to have this entire agenda accomplished and enacted into law so that it is secure.”

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