Obama completes turnaround on DOMA – asks court to strike down law
WASHINGTON, D.C., July 5, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Obama Administration has now completed a full turn on the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), arguing before the courts that the law is unconstitutional and should be voided.
Obama’s Department of Justice (DoJ) filed papers last Friday in a lawsuit filed by Karen Golinski, an attorney with the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, whose partner was denied benefits based on DOMA. The DoJ argues in their brief that the Defense of Marriage Act violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection.
The DoJ’s entrance into Golinski’s case represents the first case where Obama’s administration has dropped neutrality for active opposition to DOMA.
The DoJ’s 31-page brief asserts that DOMA’s “official legislative record” shows clearly that Section 3 of DOMA, which limits the federal definition of “marriage” to the union of one man and one woman, and “spouse” to indicate a member of the opposite sex, was “motivated in large part by animus toward gay and lesbian individuals and their intimate relationships.”
The brief also contends that homosexuality is an “immutable characteristic,” and goes on to say that “gays and lesbians have been subject to a history of discrimination” in which the U.S. government “has played a significant and regrettable role.”
The case is being argued before U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White, a Bush appointee, who dismissed Golinski’s earlier claim on procedural grounds, but left room for her to file a new case.
Earlier this year, Obama’s DoJ had stopped defending DOMA in federal challenges, leaving the legal defense of the 1996 statute up to Congress.
Besides codifying the definition of marriage in federal statutes, DOMA protects states from having to recognize as valid within their own jurisdictions same-sex “marriages” contracted in other states.
At the direction of Speaker John Boehner, the U.S. House of Representatives directed its Office of General Counsel to take up the legal defense of DOMA on behalf of Congress in March.
The DoJ filing was a response to a June 10 brief filed against Golinski by DOMA’s House legal defense.
Former U.S. solicitor general Paul Clement is defending the law, and argued in his brief that “opposite-sex marriage is a deeply rooted, historic institution - and a fundamental constitutional right - and same-sex marriage is neither of these things.”
Clement also stated that the U.S. Congress has a “legitimate government interest” in “encouraging child-rearing by a married mother and father.” He argued that while some heterosexual couples may not have children, and some homosexual couples could raise children, the government had to legislate on broad general categories for the public good.