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|Breaking: Obama to stop defending DOMA|
|by Dyana Bagby|
|February 23, 2011 12:31|
The Human Rights Campaign is reporting that the Obama administration will stop its defense of Section 3 the "Defense of Marriage Act," the federal law that denies rights to legally married same-sex couples as well as allowing states to not recognize gay marriage.
“This is a monumental decision for the thousands of same-sex couples and their families who want nothing more than the same rights and dignity afforded to other married couples,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese in a press release. “As the President has stated previously, DOMA unfairly discriminates against Americans and we applaud him for fulfilling his oath to defend critical constitutional principles.”
The Washington Post is also reporting the news.
"This is huge, folks," states gay WP reporter Jonathan Capehart. "By definitively stating that gay men and lesbians deserve heightened scrutiny, the Obama administration is declaring that there is no government interest in perpetuating the discrimination aggrieved parties are trying to redress."
The Department of Justice released a statement on the president's decision earlier today:
"Much of the legal landscape has changed in the 15 years since Congress passed DOMA. The Supreme Court has ruled that laws criminalizing homosexual conduct are unconstitutional. Congress has repealed the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. Several lower courts have ruled DOMA itself to be unconstitutional. Section 3 of DOMA will continue to remain in effect unless Congress repeals it or there is a final judicial finding that strikes it down, and the President has informed me that the Executive Branch will continue to enforce the law. But while both the wisdom and the legality of Section 3 of DOMA will continue to be the subject of both extensive litigation and public debate, this Administration will no longer assert its constitutionality in court."
DOMA was passed by Congress in 1996 and "denies married same-sex couples over 1,000 rights, benefits and responsibilities tied to marriage under federal law. These include Social Security survivors’ benefits, family and medical leave, equal compensation as federal employees, and immigration rights, among many others," states HRC.
DOMA has been under attack and legally challenged by LGBT legal groups for many years. The Department of Justice, under Obama, has been defending DOMA against these challenges.
A federal judge in Boston in July ruled portions of DOMA are unconstitutional.
Evan Wolfson, president and founder of Freedom to Marry, issued this statement:
Lambda Legal issued the following statement from Legal Director Jon Davidson:
Attorney General Eric Holder sent House Speaker John Boehner a letter today outlining the administration's position. Read below:
Top photo: President Barack Obama (official photo)
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