Tuesday, August 18, 2009

For and Against

The Obama administration is trying to have it both ways with the Defense of Marriage Act.

The Obama administration filed court papers Monday claiming a federal marriage law discriminates against gays, even as government lawyers continue to defend the law.

Justice Department lawyers are seeking to dismiss a suit brought by a gay California couple challenging the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. The administration’s response to the case has angered gay activists who see it as backtracking on campaign promises made by Barack Obama.

In the court papers, the administration urges the repeal of the law but says in the meantime, government lawyers will continue to defend it as a law on the books.


“The administration believes the Defense of Marriage Act is discriminatory and should be repealed,” said Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler, because it prevents equal rights and benefits.

The Justice Department, she added, is obligated “to defend federal statutes when they are challenged in court. The Justice Department cannot pick and choose which federal laws it will defend based on any one administration’s policy preferences.”

Look, I understand the DOJ’s obligation to defend a law on the books, and I appreciate the administration taking the stand that they want to repeal it because it is discriminatory, but how can they then turn around and say that the law is constitutional? I have always thought that the Constitution stood for equal rights for all, and that any law that discriminates against a particular group of people for no other reason than that they’re gay or lesbian is inherently unconstitutional. Not to mention just plain wrong.