The Choice to Defend DOMA, and Its Consequences

America Blog
June 14, 2009
Richard Socarides, a former Hill staffer and top aide to President Clinton, weighs in on whether or not President Obama's Department of Justice had a choice to file a brief supporting the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA):
From my experience, in a case where, as here, there are important political and social issues at stake, the president’s relationship with the Justice Department should work like this: The president makes a policy decision first and then the very talented DOJ lawyers figure out how to apply it to actual cases. If the lawyers cannot figure out how to defend a statute and stay consistent with the president’s policy decision, the policy decision should always win out.

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Obama’s Law Professor Says DOMA Unconstitutional

The Huffington Post
June 5, 2009
A campaign is underway to encourage the Department of Justice to refuse to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in the legal challenge launched by the Massachusetts based Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders. Laurence Tribe, the Harvard Constitutional law professor who hired Obama as a research assistant in his first year of law school, supports the claim that DOMA Section 3 is unconstitutional. Professor Tribe told Paul Sousa, founder of Equal Rep: "I certainly agree that Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional, at least as applied to couples like those who are currently challenging it in federal court here in Massachusetts." [Link]

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Obama ushers in Gay Pride Month

Associated Press
June 2, 2009

President Obama yesterday issued a proclamation for "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month."

In the proclamation, Obama mentions the legislative priorities, including overturning the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman and allows states to discriminate against gay couples who get married in other states, and the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which bars gays from serving openly in the military.

"I continue to support measures to bring the full spectrum of equal rights to LGBT Americans," Obama says in the proclamation. (Link)

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White House Affirms Support for DOMA Repeal

Washington Blade
May 21, 2009
The White House on Wednesday issued a statement reiterating President Obama's support for repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. "DOMA is a federal law passed by Congress that precludes uniform federal recognition of same-sex relationships, even those recognized as valid under the law of the state," the statement says. "Because the President believes that this is an issue that should be left to the states, he continues to support the legislative repeal of DOMA." [link]

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The Battle Over Benefits for Same-Sex Spouses

Wall Street Journal
May 21, 2009

Gay and lesbian couples wed in Massachusetts are challenging the law that keeps them from getting federal marital benefits. Plaintiffs say DOMA means they pay higher taxes because they can't file a joint return, and they can't collect spousal Social Security benefits, among other restrictions. Their lawsuit argues that the government discriminates against their marriages and infringes on their constitutional right to equal protection under the Fifth Amendment. [Link]

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BLOG: Obama, Don’t Defend DOMA

Huffington Post
May 20, 2009

Emma Ruby-Sachs on the Obama administration and DOMA: "Obama has the option, as has every President before him, to refuse to defend clearly unconstitutional laws. He has the opportunity today, to stand up for equal rights by refusing to argue DOMA's constitutionality in court." [Link]

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Mass. gays, supporters launch card campaign urging Obama to repeal so-called Defense of Marriage Act

Associated Press
May 19, 2009

Mass. supporters of marriage equality are launching a new campaign to urge President Obama to seek the repeal of the misnamed "DOMA". The campaign coincides with a lawsuit brought by the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders against the section of DOMA prohibiting federal recognition of marriages of same-sex couples. [Link]

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White House Press Sec Gibbs punts at the podium on DOMA question by Advocate reporter

Pam's House Blend
May 18, 2009

Kerry Eleveld of The Advocate finally got a crack at White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs at the daily press briefing and asked if the President was working to ensure federal recognition for gay couples who marry. Gibbs response: "I...I will have to go check on that. I honestly don't know the answer to that." (Link)

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Marriage Equality an Important Issue in Court Pick

Washington Post
May 17, 2009
As President Obama prepares to name his first Supreme Court justice, conservatives in Washington are making clear that his nominee will face plenty of questions during the confirmation process on the legal underpinnings of marriage equality for gay couples. [link]

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Iowa Sen. Harkin Changes Views on Marriage for Gay Couples

Washington Blade
May 11, 2009
U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin says he's changed his views on gay marriage and would oppose any effort to overturn an Iowa Supreme Court decision last month that legalized same-sex unions.
Harkin acknowledges his views on the subject have changed since he voted for the Defense of Marriage Act in 1998. That measure defined marriage as between one man and one woman.

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