WIN! for Equality!

President Obama announces Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.

by National Journal:

The decision, which stunned and delighted gay-rights activists, means that the administration will withdraw its defense of ongoing suits in two federal Appeals Courts and will leave it to Congress to defend the law, known as DOMA, against those challenges. It will remain a party to the lawsuits. The law itself remains in effect.

In a statement, Attorney General Eric Holder said, “After careful consideration, including a review of my recommendation, the president has concluded that, given a number of factors, including a documented history of discrimination, classifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to a more heightened standard of scrutiny.”

An opponent of California's Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriages in the state, holding an American flag and a gay-pride flag during a December demonstration outside the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

He said that Obama also concluded that Section 3 of DOMA, which defines “spouse” as a member of the opposite sex, “fails to meet that standard and is therefore unconstitutional. Given that conclusion, the president has instructed the department not to defend the statute in such cases. I fully concur with the president’s determination.”

The announcement by the Justice Department came just minutes before White House press secretary Jay Carney’s regular briefing. Carney took care to press upon reporters that the president’s personal view about DOMA — that it is unfair to gays and lesbians — is distinct from the decision.

Carney also said that the U.S. government will still be a party to these cases to allow the courts to make a recommendation about constitutionality and to allow other interested parties, such as Congress, to defend the law if they wish.

According to an administration official, Robert Bauer has been reviewing the legal landscape since he became White House counsel in 2010. As the Justice Department noted today, in the 15 years since Congress passed the act, the Supreme Court has invalidated laws criminalizing gay sex, lower courts have ruled DOMA unconstitutional, and Congress agreed to abolish the ban on gays serving openly in the military.

The announcement today does not overturn the law. That would take an act of Congress or a final finding by the judicial branch, probably the Supreme Court. But it changes the vector of the legal cases considerably. Privately, the administration believes that five justices of the Court, including Anthony Kennedy, the swing vote, would find parts or most of DOMA invalid if the federal government withdrew its arguments in defense of it.

A spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, the largest gay-rights advocacy group, said it was notified just after 11 a.m. ET today.

“This is a monumental decision for the thousands of same-sex couples and their families who want nothing more than the same rights and dignity afforded to other married couples,” said Human Rights Campaign, the largest gay-rights advocacy group President Joe Solmonese. “As the president has stated previously, DOMA unfairly discriminates against Americans and we applaud him for fulfilling his oath to defend critical constitutional principles.”

National Journal

As one NJ Commenter Posted February 23, 2011 | 2:04 p.m:

Gay rights activists: You must stop bringing your emotions into this debate and USE THE LAW to protect your natural rights. Read the Constitution, learn what it says, and if there is something concerning your protection that is ambiguous, you must fight to make it unambiguous. That is the only way to protect yourselves from religious fundamentalists who wish to force you to conform to their sexual and social norms.

My sentiments exactly. Proud to be an American moon_martian 🙂