Justice Department will no longer defend DOMA in legal challenges
February 23rd, 2011
12:38 PM ET
3 years ago

Justice Department will no longer defend DOMA in legal challenges

Washington (CNN)– President Barack Obama has ordered the Justice Department to stop defending the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as only between a man and woman, according to a statement Wednesday from Attorney General Eric Holder.

"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 scrutiny," Holder said.

The key provisions in the law "fails to meet that standard and is therefore unconstitutional."

"Given that conclusion, the president has instructed the (Justice Department) not to defend the statute" in two pending cases in New York state, Holder said. "I fully concur with the president's determination."


Filed under: Gay rights • Uncategorized
soundoff (168 Responses)
  1. Nick

    One sentence, CNN? Really? I mean, I know ticker stories are supposed to be short and all, but could you have possibly written a less substantial "article"?

    February 23, 2011 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  2. diridi

    justice department got to be idiotic, or else, why defending the constitutionality of marriage act. It is a separate enactment passed by fed. government. Constitution is nothing to do with this Act. As long as superseding provisions of marriage act or vice verse, are effecting, it is fine....listen, any thing, or any of the provisions are in contra with constitution, saying notwithstanding hereinafter mentioned as a constitutional stipulation, marriage act is fine.....

    February 23, 2011 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  3. Eric

    I thought we had separation of powers in the US. Seems my 7th grade civics class (and several classes after it) pointed out the checks and balances of US government. The Executive Branch can't actually order the Judicial Branch to do anything. Oh, it can order things, but the Judicial Branch doesn't have to follow the orders. A loss of the checks and balances in our government would result in lawlessness. Now, maybe the Defense of Marriage Act is a stupid act... but we have (had?) a system of laws in place... a Constitution that many people believe in...

    February 23, 2011 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  4. Sandra

    Since when does the Justice Branch allow the Executive Branch to tell them what to do?

    February 23, 2011 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  5. ssk

    Its about time. This issue just needs to be scrapped. Live and let live.

    February 23, 2011 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  6. michaelam

    Ready for the RW heads to explode in unison! It's about time that ALL Americans are treated equally regardless of Color, Religion, National Origin, Gender and yes.....Sexual Orientation!
    Sorry, Teahadists, but this is America.....land of freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for ALL! Equal Protection under the Fourteenth Amendment for all...

    February 23, 2011 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  7. Stephanie

    Well, it looks like Washington has FINALLY come out of the closet and admitted they have no Christian morals. For President Obama to tout his Christian faith and then blast the DOMA is such a slap in the face to his "Christian faith" that it is quite clear to me he has no idea what "Christian faith" is all about.

    February 23, 2011 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  8. Thank you Mr. President

    About time. I am v. glad to see President Obama in a long-overdue display of backbone. Ten years from now everyone is going to wonder what all the fuss about gay marriage was all about.

    February 23, 2011 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  9. Ferret out the B.S.

    Why is it that conservatives want less government in their lives but want to make who you marry a government controlled issue? I don't get it, talk about hyprocracy.

    February 23, 2011 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  10. Derrek

    Man, this guy will do anything for a vote. Pretty sad, but he is just sticking with what he does best, and that is do everything BUT defend the Constitution.

    February 23, 2011 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  11. mfhpr

    Wow! This will make for some serious heckling from the Right!

    February 23, 2011 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  12. Dave Harris

    You'd think Republicans would be against this law. Isn't it 'government overreach' to tell people who they can marry? Is this really the government's job, to decide and enforce law about marriage in accordance with somebody's religion? Where are the real Libertarians when you need them?

    February 23, 2011 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  13. Tdogg

    Thank you President Obama!! Thank you for standing up for justice, equality and the US Constitution. This is a great start, now let's work to get rid of this archaic piece of (trash) legislation!!

    February 23, 2011 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  14. moderateray

    Elton John just gave Rush Limbaugh a big, wet kiss on the mouth!

    February 23, 2011 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  15. Maleko

    It's about time to retire this travesty of denying civil rights to a minority. There are roughly 20 million Americans who are LGBT and they deserve to be treated like everyone else. Discrimination has no place in a country that stands for freedom and equality under the law.

    February 23, 2011 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  16. Jilli

    Good move!

    While the president continues live in a reality based world and move us forward, the republicans live in some alternate reality where abortion rights are a top priority – settled law for over 40 years, 9% unemployment, and abortion is their top priority.

    Mr. boehner – where are the jobs?

    February 23, 2011 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  17. QS

    It was inevitable that once DADT was thrown out this farce of federally protected discrimination would be next....honestly didn't think it would be this quick though!

    Now, rather than just not defending it in legal challenegs, it needs to be removed altogether. This is also helpful in the Prop. 8 case as DOMA will not be something the proponents of Prop. 8 can use as a defense anymore....not that it was an effective defense strategy to begin with.

    February 23, 2011 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  18. JEJ

    It's about frickin' time Obama started delivering on his campaign promises.

    February 23, 2011 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  19. Timothy

    This is welcome news.

    February 23, 2011 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  20. The reality is...

    surprise, surprise. Not constitutional but mandating we all buy health insurance IS constitutional, right? This administration is so backwards it's not even funny.

    February 23, 2011 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  21. JohnA.Evans3rd

    I AGREE WITH POTUS

    February 23, 2011 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  22. Rich

    I guess they got tired of making really dumb arguments in court.

    February 23, 2011 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  23. Matthew Dunn

    This administration has done more for gay rights than any other in history. Thank you, President Obama. You have restored my faith in you. Discrimination, in any form, is a danger to everyone.

    February 23, 2011 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  24. Swatguy

    The President and AG have determined the law is unconstitutional? What arrogant presumption on their part that they are now somehow the judicial branch as well as the regal, sorry, executive branch. No surprise here. Maybe Rahm can weigh in on the issue as the new King of Chicago. Losers all.

    February 23, 2011 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  25. Michael

    The most telling aspect of the anti-gay klan is they always refuse to discuss the constitutionality of banning gay marriage.

    February 23, 2011 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7