« In the face of Obama's complacency, gays must commit to new strategies and tactics, The Advocate urges | Main | Ted Olson's road to advocacy for same-sex marriage »

August 18, 2009

In California federal lawsuit, Obama shifts tone on DOMA while still defending it

President Obama said Monday he still wants to scrap DOMA and that his administration's stance in a California court case is not about defending traditional marriage but instead about defending an existing law based on its constitutionality.  According to the AP,

Justice Department lawyers filed new papers Monday seeking to throw out a lawsuit brought by a gay couple challenging the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA. Gay rights groups say that by doing so, the administration is failing to follow through on campaign promises made by Obama last year to work to repeal the law.

Department lawyers are defending the law 'as it traditionally does when acts of Congress are challenged,' Obama said in a statement.

The government says in its court filing that it will defend the statute in this case because a reasonable argument can be made that the law is constitutional — a standard practice of government lawyers.

The reply brief filed Monday summarizes the administration's position this way:

With respect to the merits, this Administration does not support DOMA as a matter of policy, believes that it is discriminatory, and supports its repeal. Consistent with the rule of law, however, the Department of Justice has long followed the practice of defending federal statutes as long as reasonable arguments can be made in support of their constitutionality, even if the Department disagrees with a particular statute as a policy matter, as it does here. . . .

The case is Smelt v. U.S. NO. SACV09-00286 DOC (MLGx) (C.D. Cal). The full reply brief is available here.


August 18, 2009 | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference In California federal lawsuit, Obama shifts tone on DOMA while still defending it:


Post a comment