Obama Abandons Defense of Marriage Act

February 23, 2011 - 12:55 PM

same-sex marriage, gay marriage

Bill Slimback, left, and Bob Sullivan of Whitehall, N.Y., exchange rings during their wedding ceremony at Moose Meadow Lodge in Waterbury, Vt., while Justice of the Peace Greg Trulson, a co-owner of the lodge, officiates on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2009. (AP Photo/Andy Duback)

(CNSNews.com) – The Justice Department has announced that it will no longer defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) because the president and Attorney General Eric Holder now believe the law is unconstitutional.

“After careful consideration, including review of a recommendation from me, the President of the United States has made the determination that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”), 1 U.S.C. § 7, as applied to same-sex couples who are legally married under state law, violates the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment,” Holder wrote in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) Wednesday.

Section 3 of DOMA is the portion of the law that defines marriage as between one man and one woman. Obama and Holder now support the claims of the law’s opponents that the traditional definition of marriage violates the Constitution.

Holder explained that he and Obama felt that the government could not defend the traditional definition of marriage as a rational distinction in federal court, saying that any morality-based defense of DOMA would amount to “animus” and “stereotype-based thinking” that the Constitution prohibits.

“The [legislative] record 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 Equal Protection Clause is designed to guard against,” Holder wrote.

In other words, because Congress enacted DOMA for moral reasons, the Obama administration will not defend it, because it thinks those moral reasons amount to “animus” towards homosexuals.

Holder said that Obama had decided that the traditional definition of marriage could not be defended from charges that it is not discriminatory, given what Holder said was a “history” of anti-homosexual discrimination.

“After careful consideration, including a review of my recommendation, the President has concluded that given a number of factors, including a documented history of discrimination, classifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to a heightened standard of scrutiny,” Holder said.

“The President has also concluded that Section 3 of DOMA, as applied to legally married same-sex couples, fails to meet that standard and is therefore unconstitutional,” he added.

Congress, as the author of DOMA, can still defend the law in federal court.