Department of Justice Will No Longer Defend DOMA


Attorney General Eric Holder

Two lawsuits currently in the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals claim that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) discriminates against gays and lesbians. (Duh!)

Unfortunately, the Department of Justice is required to defend federal legislation in the courts when challenged, and they had until March 11 to respond to these lawsuits. The concern was that te DOJ would feel obligated to zealously defend DOMA — sort of like a public defender stuck with a really guilty client.

Thankfully, today Attorney General Eric Holder released a statement:

“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

A key provision in the law as applied to legally married gay couples “fails to meet that standard and is therefore unconstitutional.”

that conclusion, the president has instructed the (Justice Department)
not to defend the statute” in the two pending cases 2nd Circuit,
Holder said. “I fully concur with the president’s determination.”

This does not mean that DOMA is suddenly no longer being enforced. White House press secretary Jay Carney today stressed that even though the Administration wouldn’t defend DOMA as constitutional in the courts — it still was obligated to enforce it.

What do you think of this new development?