Obama admin: Defense of DOMA is unconstitutional

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    Jul 03, 2011 6:17 AM GMT
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/03/obama-administration-says-defense-of-marriage-act-unconstitutional_n_889374.htmlSAN FRANCISCO -- In a strongly worded legal brief, the Obama administration has said the federal act that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman was motivated by hostility toward gays and lesbians and is unconstitutional.

    The brief was filed Friday in federal court in San Francisco in support of a lesbian federal employee's lawsuit claiming the government wrongly denied health coverage to her same-sex spouse.

    The Justice Department says Karen Golinski's suit should not be dismissed because the law under which her spouse was denied benefits – the Defense of Marriage Act – violates the constitution's guarantee of equal protection.

    "The official legislative record makes plain that DOMA Section 3 was motivated in large part by animus toward gay and lesbian individuals and their intimate relationships, and Congress identified no other interest that is materially advanced by Section 3," the brief reads, referring to the section in the act that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman.

    Though the administration has previously said it will not defend the marriage act, the brief is the first court filing in which it urges the court to find the law unconstitutional, said Tobias Barrington Wolff, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

    "This brief represents the concrete manifestation of a complete paradigm shift in the federal government's position on anti-gay discrimination and the constitutional rights of married same-sex couples," Wolff said in a phone interview Saturday.

    The brief argues that gays and lesbians have been subject to a history of discrimination by federal, state and local governments and private parties. It also lays out the administration's position that sexual orientation is an "immutable characteristic," that gays and lesbians are minorities with limited political power and that sexual orientation has no bearing on someone's ability to contribute to society and advances no legitimate policy interest.

    "It's quite powerful to have the administration saying in a court filing that this kind of discrimination should be viewed suspiciously," said Tara Borelli, an attorney for Golinski.

    Attorneys for a U.S. House of Representatives group that has stepped in to defend the marriage act's constitutionality in the Golinski case did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

    In court filings, they have said that multiple courts have relied on Congress's justifications for enacting the law to uphold its constitutionality.

    Golinski is a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lawyer. She sued the U.S. Office of Personnel Management last year for not authorizing family health coverage for her same-sex spouse.

    Her attorneys are now seeking summary judgment in her favor.
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    Jul 03, 2011 7:04 PM GMT
    How nice it is to have a gay-friendly administration.
    (Even if at times it treads slowly.)
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    Jul 03, 2011 7:12 PM GMT
    Caesarea4 saidHow nice it is to have a gay-friendly administration.
    (Even if at times it treads slowly.)


    It is, but any change is going to happen slowly. Equal rights dont come overnight, even though they should. THere are still a lot of bigoted bastards that we need to educate out there.
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    Jul 03, 2011 7:17 PM GMT
    Caesarea4 saidHow nice it is to have a gay-friendly administration.
    (Even if at times it treads slowly.)




    On the one hand, it's a shame that many gay Americans take for granted the fact that we have a president who's been far more pro-gay than any president in U.S. history.
    On the other hand, it's great that we've made so much progress in gaining equality, that we're no longer happy with just having a few crumbs of acceptance thrown at us - and we're demanding full equality now.

    It shows how far we've come.

    If Obama can get reelected, and has the opportunity then to push harder for full marriage equality - without worrying that doing so will make it harder for him to get reelected - we could see gay marriage become a reality by the time he leaves office.
    If he doesn't get reelected, and we see the election one of the Repubs who supports a constitutional ban on gay marriage, we will have to wait a LOT longer to see more progress on gay rights.