Sunday, October 17, 2010

White House Reluctantly Supports Marriage

The Obama Justice Department on Tuesday filed a terse notice to a federal appeals court in Boston that it is appealing a U.S. district judge’s ruling striking down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act [DOMA].

For extensive background, see series of past linked articles.

UPDATE 5/31/12: 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston rules against DOMA -- next stop, U.S. Supreme Court

-- From "Obama administration appeals gay marriage ruling" by Jeremy Pelofsky, Reuters 10/12/10

"As a policy matter, the President has made clear that he believes DOMA is discriminatory and should be repealed," said Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler. "The Justice Department is defending the statute, as it traditionally does when acts of Congress are challenged."

The rulings being appealed by the government were made in July by U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro in Boston who found the law violated the U.S. Constitution's 10th Amendment, which protects states' rights, and the clause granting equal protection under the law.

Under his rulings, same-sex couples would be entitled to the same federal spousal benefits and protections that are afforded to heterosexual married couples.

The appeal comes at a tough time for Obama, who has been trying to shore up his liberal base ahead of the contentious congressional elections when his fellow Democrats are expected to lose many seats to Republicans. Democrats could lose control of the House of Representatives.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Feds appeal Mass. rulings against US marriage law" by Denise Lavoie, Associated Press Legal Affairs Writer 10/12/10

The notice of appeal filed Tuesday did not spell out any arguments in support of the law. The appeals eventually will be heard by the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston.

Opponents of gay marriage, citing the president's support for repealing DOMA, have accused the Obama administration of failing to vigorously defend the law.

In two separate cases, U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro in July ruled the federal Defense of Marriage Act, known as DOMA, is unconstitutional because it interferes with a state's right to define marriage and denies married gay couples an array of federal benefits given to heterosexual married couples, including the ability to file joint tax returns.

Tauro's rulings came in separate challenges: one filed by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley and the other by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, a Boston-based legal rights group that argued successfully to make Massachusetts the first state in the country to legalize gay marriage.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Obama Justice Department Appeals DOMA Rulings" by Peter J. Smith, 10/13/10

. . . Tracy Schmaler, the DOJ’s spokeswoman [said] in a statement . . . "The Department of Justice has a long-standing practice of defending federal statutes when they are challenged in court, including by appealing adverse decisions of lower courts."

However, both defenders and opponents of DOMA point out that not all U.S. administrations have defended federal laws they disagreed with or thought were unconstitutional.

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley sued in the Massachusetts case, and the [Nancy] Gill case [an employee of the U.S. Postal Service, with "wife" Marcelle Letourneau] was brought forward by the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD).

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.