The Obama Justice Department has filed a legal brief in support of repealing the federal Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, but critics are warning the move will jeopardize state rights.
The Defense of Marriage Act provides that
federal laws must be interpreted in accord with the traditional
definition of marriage as the union of husband and wife.
Justice Department lawyer Scott Simpson filed a new brief Aug 17 declaring: “With respects to the merits, this Administration does not support DOMA as a matter of policy, believes that it is discriminatory, and supports its repeal.”
In the same brief, the Justice Department sought to dismiss a suit brought by a homosexual California couple challenging the 1996 federal marriage act.
In a written statement, Obama declared:
[T]he Department of Justice has filed a response to a legal challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, as it traditionally does when acts of Congress are challenged. This brief makes clear, however, that my Administration believes that the Act is discriminatory and should be repealed by Congress. I have long held that DOMA prevents LGBT couples from being granted equal rights and benefits. While we work with Congress to repeal DOMA, my Administration will continue to examine and implement measures that will help extend rights and benefits to LGBT couples under existing law.
The Justice Department said it “does not believe that DOMA is rationally related to any legitimate government interests in procreation and child-rearing” and evidence “that children raised by gay and lesbian parents are as likely to be well-adjusted as children raised by heterosexual parents.”
Alliance Defense Fund attorney Brian Raum told OneNewsNow, “It’s really troubling that the federal government has taken the position that federal DOMA is bad policy. Federal DOMA was passed overwhelmingly by Congress and represents the prevailing view of the people of the United States that a marriage is between a man and a woman, and that’s the optimal environment for raising kids.”
He said the current federal law provides protection for states.
“Federal DOMA makes it clear that states have the right to regulate marriage within their borders, and they cannot be forced to recognize same-sex marriages from other states,” he said. “If federal DOMA were to be struck down, that whole area of the law would be in jeopardy.”
Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, said if DOMA is declared unconstitutional, the move will open the door to an all-out assault on states’ rights.
“Then the individual states are sort of sitting ducks,” Staver explained. “What would happen is same-sex marriage would rush over the dam of the various borders of the states, so to speak, like a floodwater rushing over the top of a dam, and [it] flood all the other states.”
Jennifer Pizer, senior counsel and Marriage Project Director for Lambda Legal, a gay and lesbian rights group, told the Christian Science Monitor she expects a bill to overturn DOMA will be introduced when Congress returns from summer recess.
She said, “There is just a different level of awareness today than 13 years ago when [DOMA] was enacted.”
Staver told WND’s Greg Corombos he believes the issue will ultimately go before the U.S. Supreme Court, though he claims the court has no constitutional authority to redefine marriage.
“The Supreme Court should not be in the business of redefining or even defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” he said. “That transcends the Constitution. It is something that is part of our natural existence. It is something that transcends political parties and geographies and time. The Supreme Court should not be in the business of actually redefining it. If in fact they do redefine to something other than what it is, it clearly shows we have an activist court. I think we need to make sure we have justices on the bench that understand the role as an umpire, not activist legislators.”
As WND reported earlier, the White House scrubbed President Obama’s central pledge to the homosexual community to repeal DOMA from its website.
The president unveiled his pro-homosexual agenda on the White House website on Inauguration Day. Under the “Civil Rights” section, he called for the repeal of the act signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996 after an overwhelming
bipartisan vote in Congress (342-67 and 85-14).
The following is the original language posted on the White House website as Obama took office:
Oppose a Constitutional Ban on Same-Sex Marriage: President Obama voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2006 which would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman and prevented judicial extension of marriage-like rights to same-sex or other unmarried couples.
Support Full Civil Unions and Federal Rights for LGBT Couples: President Obama supports full civil unions that give same-sex couples legal rights and privileges equal to those of married couples. Obama also believes we need to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and enact legislation that would ensure that the 1,100+ federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally-recognized unions. These rights and benefits include the right to assist a loved one in times of emergency, the right to equal health insurance and other employment benefits, and property rights. (emphasis added)
The White House has removed the president’s goal to repeal the act. The website now states the following:
President Obama also continues to support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and believes that our anti-discrimination employment laws should be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity. He supports full civil unions and federal rights for LGBT couples and opposes a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. … (emphasis added)
In December 2008, Obama told the Advocate, “I for a very long time have been interested in repeal of DOMA.”
In a Feb. 8, 2008, letter posted on his website, Obama promised “LGBT equality in America.” It stated:
Unlike Senator Clinton, I support the complete repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) – a position I have held since before arriving in the U.S. Senate. While some say we should repeal only part of the law, I believe we should get rid of that statute altogether. Federal law should not discriminate in any way against gay and lesbian couples, which is precisely what DOMA does.