The Justice Department is defending the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as only between a man and a woman, while noting that the Obama administration opposes the law. Thursday, the department filed an appeal of a federal judge's ruling that DOMA is unconstitutional. The DOJ argues that DOMA maintains the status quo at the federal level while allowing states to experiment with new policies. Attorneys who signed the filing worked with a liason to the gay community "to make sure briefings in the DOMA case did not advance arguments that the LGBT community would find particularly offensive," Talking Points Memo's Ryan J. Reilly reports.
Supporters of gay rights will no doubt be disappointed that Obama, who said he'd repeal in 2008 and reiterated his desire to do so last month, is defending the rule, but the appeal is carefully worded and "reflects the policy values of this administration," justice department lawyer Tony West told Reilly. West says the administration has a responsibility to faithfully fight for the laws passed by Congress. He adds: "We disavowed some arguments [defending DOMA] that we believed had no basis in fact," and offered information that "seemed to undermine some of the previous rationales" for DOMA.
- Obama's Not Much of an Advocate, Myiq2xu sighs at The Confluence. "DADT only affected a minority of gays and lesbians. DOMA affects them all. All Obama had to do was nothing and it was gone."
- Obama's Relationship With Gays Is Tricky, Politico's Ben Smith writes. The president "seemed to have mended his difficult relationship with the gay rights movement by getting the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' done, but this evening brings another flare-up. ... The half-heartedness of that defense didn't offer much solace to activists..."
- A Nicer Tone Only Goes So Far, Equality Matters chief Richard Socarides told Smith. "There are some improvements in tone in the brief, but the bottom line is the government continues to oppose full equality for its gay citizens... And that is unacceptable."
- No Duty to Defend Bad Laws, Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese emailed supporters, as Smith also reports. "The Administration claims that it has a duty to defend the laws that are on the books. We simply do not agree. At the very least, the Justice Department can and should acknowledge that the law is unconstitutional... All families deserve the recognition and respect of their government. It's time for President Obama to state his support for full, equal marriage. And we want your help in telling him that it's time."
- Closer Look at DOJ's Argument "Although each is slightly different," Metro Weekly's Chris Geidner writes, "these three 'rationales' do read like different shades of the same argument, which is more or less that DOMA made sense--or, is rational--because the states hadn't reached a uniform decision. In addition, the government argues that--contrary to the trial court decision in the Massachusetts case--DOMA does not violate either the Spending Clause or the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution."
- Congress Won't Repeal DOMA Any Time Soon, Newsweek's Ben Adler notes. The White House says it has to wait for Congress to act, but that won't happen in this session. The Human Rights Campaign took a close look at the voting records of every member and found there are 53 more "anti-LGBT" members this session. "The overall change--that gay-rights advocates have lost their supportive majority--is the same in both houses of Congress. What does that mean for gay rights? While HRC pledges to continue pushing for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would ban workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, and repeal of DOMA, neither will happen in this Congress."