Breaking: Obama orders Justice Department to stop defending Defense of Marriage Act

This is just extraordinary.

President Obama has ordered the Department of Justice – which is tasked with defending the laws passed by Congress – to STOP defending the Defense of Marriage Act … which was passed by Congress. Here is the statement from the Attorney General:

The President has also concluded that Section 3 of DOMA, as applied to legally married same-sex couples, 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. [Read the full letter here]

The US Bishops have issued a strong statement critical of the decision:

The U.S. bishops’ Office of General Counsel said the Obama administration’s decision to no longer support the Defense of Marriage Act in legal challenges ahead “represents an abdication” of its “constitutional obligation to ensure that laws of the United States are faithfully executed.”

“Marriage has been understood for millennia and across cultures as the union of one man and one woman,” the office said in a statement issued Feb. 23 [CNS]

Here’s my quick take: Obama believes that traditional marriage laws are unconstitutional, and he’ll stop at nothing to undermine them using any tool at his disposal. That’s really all one can conclude from this extraordinary action he’s just taken.

William Duncan writes, “There is something about the marriage issue that provokes an “any means necessary” approach from its proponents (among whom I believe we can count the president, notwithstanding campaign rhetoric to the contrary).”

Dan Foster adds:

“The DOJ (and the president) are attempting to unilaterally amend the Constitution to add a sexual-orientation discrimination clause.”

Over the last decade, most of the courts that have weighed in on the issue have found marriage laws to be consistent with the federal Constitution or the relevant state constitution, but the DOJ does not even mention these decisions.

UPDATE – Nancy Pelosi chimes in with her unhelpful two cents:

Glad to see she is so equally wrong on marriage as she is on life.

For many more updates on this topic, see the NOM blog.



  • Jesús

    I am not a lawyer. But It isn’t prevarication? I thought it was a crime.

  • Pete

    Can anyone confirm that all this really means is that the administration will merely no longer send lawyers to defend the constitutional merit of the law but that it is still up to the courts to determine the law’s constitutionality, and it is still up to congress to repeal it. The executive branch is exercising its right to stop stepping in the way of that process? Thanks

  • Pete

    Are there other examples of the Justice Department choosing not to defend a particular enacted law? Anyone? I’m trying to determine if this s unprecedented.



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