Obama’s Decision on Defense of Marriage Act: Will It Pave the Way for Same-Sex Marriage?

Feb 23, 2011  •  Post A Comment

President Obama has instructed the Department of Justice to stop defending the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, ABC News reported, triggering a flurry of speculation that the move may be a step toward approval of same-sex marriage.

The Defense of Marriage Act has served since 1996 to enable states to refuse to recognize same-sex partnerships that are recognized in other states. The move was announced by Attorney General Eric Holder in connection with two lawsuits challenging the Act’s definition of marriage as between a man and a woman.

In an analysis piece on cbsnews.com, Jan Crawford writes: “Aside from the Big Deal that DOJ no longer will defend a federal law (which historically has hardly ever happened) there’s perhaps an even Bigger Deal in today’s announcement that President Obama has decided the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. In reaching that conclusion, the President and Justice Department have concluded that laws treating gays and straight people differently must get closer scrutiny from the courts–and should be upheld only if there is a very good reason for them. That’s a tougher legal standard than the courts typically have used in evaluating discriminatory laws against gays and lesbians.”

Crawford adds that the move “also puts the administration in front of the Supreme Court, which has yet to decide whether gays and lesbians should get the same kind of protection that women or, even, that minorities get. If the Court ultimately agrees with the Justice Department on using a tougher standard, in practice that means pretty much any law treating gays and lesbians differently than everyone else will almost always be unconstitutional.”

Following the announcement, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said she will introduce a measure to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, the San Jose Mercury-News reported.


  1. …and this has to do with the TV industry how?

  2. Perhaps a disproportionate number of non-heterosexuals. Regardless, since when can the executive branch of government usurp the powers reserved for the judicial branch?

  3. No one seems to understand that the whole question of Marriage was entirely a religious function until the government stepped into it several hundred years ago affording secular officials such as Judges, Ship Captains, and others to perform marriages. When that happened, the whole question changed and it became a secular function, and because it became secular, it no longer could discriminate, therefore there is no valid legal reason to deny same sex marriages. It isn’t a moral question. You religious folk gave that up several hundred years ago.
    Get over it.

  4. Yep, you’re right. And why stop at same-sex? How about same species? Same genus? Same class, order or family? Let’s not settle for anything less than same-phylum marriages!

  5. He’s not usurping power. He’s choosing not to take issues to court. It’s like if you get into a car accident. You have a choice to sue or not to sue. If you choose not to sue, you’re not usurping the powers of the judicial system.

  6. Doug – You’re clearly a moron.

  7. Doug, thanks for explaining the slippery slope that is being created. 30 years ago if someone would have said Homesexuals could marry, society at large would have said that was moronic and that it would never happen. So, to piggy back on what Doug said, why stop at same-sex?
    I would like to know when it became legal for a politician (or any other branch of government or law enforcement)to ignore a law. I think this is the bigger deal of the matter. If Mr. Obama does not like or agree with a law, that is his perogative and he has the right to not agree with it. But, he must uphold it until it is no longer law. Sounds a bit like a ruler more than a 3 branch government.

  8. Thank YOU, Stacy, for pointing out that 100 years ago, if someone would have said that Women have the right to vote, society at large would have said that was moronic and it would never happen. What’s next, give the vote to minorities?
    And he’s NOT choosing to “ignore a law”, he is taking the Justice Department out of the argument, so the Supreme Court can decide if denying civil rights to a particular group is constitutional or not. That is their role.

  9. There’s a 50/50 chance that the S.Ct. will rule in favor of heightened scrutinyt for gays, so that explains in part the president’s reversal along with other factors like this was likely his real position despite throwing us under the bus before, he sees the direction of history, activism is working, etc. This situation is very complicated, but for now, it is moving in our direction. As Bill Bennet once said- even as he fought against marriage equality- its likely inevitable. The reasons why is that the same arguments that apply to racial equality apply here. THe only thing that has prevented it from sinking is hatred of gays. That’s losing year by year. Everyone, including the bigots, kind of know.

  10. I noticed the idiotic arguement was brought up about other species. This arguement demonstrates a lack of intelligence on your part. If you understand the concept of “consenting adult” that arguement flys right up your anal cavity.

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