Conservative Group: Did Obama Justice Dept. Collaborate With Those Trying to Overturn California’s Same-Sex Marriage Ban?

By Susan Jones | March 2, 2011 | 9:44 AM EST

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. (AP photo)

( – A conservative advocacy group wants to know if the U.S. Justice Department had any behind-the-scenes correspondence or communication with various law firms and/or groups that are suing California over its voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage.

The Family Research Council has filed a freedom of information act (FOIA) request with the Justice Department, seeking any and all communications between Justice Department officials and various law firms or liberal advocacy groups that oppose, or are involved in the legal fight against either California’s Proposition 8 or the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

It’s a question of timing.

The FRC noted in its FOIA request that Attorney General Eric Holder – on Feb. 23 – held a news conference and then sent a letter to Congress announcing that the Obama administration would no longer defend the federal definition of marriage found in the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Attorney General Eric Holder (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Less than three hours after Holder’s announcement, litigants seeking to strike down California’s definition of traditional marriage filed a “motion to vacate stay” in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. That motion cited and/or quoted from Holder’s letter twice -- on pages 7 and 10.

The FRC, which has filed friend-of-the-court briefs defending both Prop 8 and DOMA -- said it is troubled by the “lightning fast integration of concepts and actual language” from Holder’s Feb. 23 letter into legal documents seeking to dismiss the court order prohibiting same-sex marriages in California.

“The mainstream media may not give this ‘coincidence’ a second thought, but to FRC, this lightning-fast citation of the letter into a major judicial document is highly suspicious,” FRC said on Tuesday.

“Our concern is that the Department of Justice has been collaborating with the litigants in the Proposition 8 case behind the scenes, so FRC sent a letter to the DOJ asking for record of all correspondence between DOJ and opponents of Prop 8 in the last month. If there is a quiet partnership, the alliance would be both unethical and highly damaging to America 's rule of law,” FRC President Tony Perkins said on Tuesday.

“Regardless of your political leanings, it should be obvious that a Department of Justice that collaborates with opponents of federal law to strike it down is clearly an example of a political system run amok. DOJ's job is to defend laws that Congress enacts -- not help to undermine them.”

In its FOIA request, the FRC asks the Justice Department to produce “all responsive correspondence, memoranda, documents, statements, e-mails, text messages, letters, calendar or diary logs, facsimile logs, telephone records, call sheets, tape recordings, notes, and other documents and things that refer or relate” to the California case – within 20 business days.

The FRC specifically mentions Justice Department communications with two law firms – Boies, Schiller & Flexner and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher – as well as the following groups: American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, and Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders.

The FRC has called the Obama administration’s failure to defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act “appalling.”

“The President's failure to defend DOMA is also a failure to fulfill his oath to 'faithfully execute the office of President of the United States,'” Perkins said in a Feb. 23 news release. “What will be the next law that he will choose not to enforce or uphold?” he asked.