Justice Department will no longer defend DOMA in legal challenges
February 23rd, 2011
12:38 PM ET
11 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. Jonathan (Boston)

    My only problem with this is that it doesn't seem to be the President's job to "conclude" what level of scrutiny is required for a class of individuals. I thought that was the job of the courts. Great move though.

    Next up... States sue Holder/Obama for refusal to defend DOMA! Watch... it's gonna happen!

    February 23, 2011 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  2. Airdoc

    When did we get a dictatorship in this country? No matter if you believe in this or not, it is still a law on the books and the justice department is obligated to defend such laws. It is NOT up to the president to decide which laws he likes because he said it's unconstitutional ! What law is going to be next? WAKE UP!!!!

    February 23, 2011 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  3. Aaron

    It's about time. At least Obama learned something from the Repub's defunding efforts of laws they don't like. Time to return the favor.

    February 23, 2011 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  4. wertyu

    This president is a coward. Gay "marriage" is wrong. Marriage is supposed to be between a man and a women. Homosexuality undermines the complexity, physiology and necessity of the opposite s3x. He's the President. Why is he so
    afraid to stand up for what's right?

    February 23, 2011 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  5. SconnieGuz

    Is there anything more that we can do for the minorities in this country (gays and muslims in particular)? Does the majority not matter anymore? The new vision in America seems to be give everything to rich, hope for the sight of gay men frollicking through the park making out and mosques on every corner..and lets give illegal immigrants all the benefits of our own citizens...the taxpaying, hard-working AMERICAN citizens won't mind paying!!!Our leaders from both parties have ruined this country. WTF is going on????

    February 23, 2011 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  6. Guy Smith


    February 23, 2011 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  7. Larry L

    The President continues to defend the rights of all Americans and reject the hateful initiatives of the right-wing. Nothing is meaner than a "good Christian".

    February 23, 2011 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  8. Rene, SF

    Thank you once again Mr. President! We THE TRUE AMERICAN PEOPLE love you! God bless you and God bless the USA! EQUAL RIGHTS FOR ALLLLLL!

    February 23, 2011 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  9. Omooba

    I wonder what definition the President has given her daughters when asked the meaning of marriage. "Between a Man and Woman or between Man and Man or Woman and Woman"

    February 23, 2011 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  10. Amber

    It's their job to defend constitutionality. Don't tell them not to. If it's not for them all that is considered constitutional will be what the president days and that's the final word, we need checks and balances.

    February 23, 2011 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  11. John

    I really do not care if someone wants to marry a cockroach. But I do mind a elected official refusing to do their job.

    February 23, 2011 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  12. Fox Mulder

    I missed the news about the Supreme Court being abolished. I guess it is now up to Obama to decide whether laws he doesn't like are unconstitutional. But since I have as much legal authority to declare unconstitutionality as he does, I declare the IRS unconstitutional.

    February 23, 2011 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  13. Inmyopinion

    Hey, this opens the door for the next president that comes to be able to say he/she will not enforce the laws that for example protect gays and how would we feel about that? Obama is not a dictator, he is a president, he has to uphold the laws even if he doesn't like some or all of them just like police officers. Obama does not get to pick and choose which laws he will uphold. As for Holder, he is to uphold the law regardless of his personal feelings or find yourself another job if he can't uphold the law. If this law were to get changed than that is different. How would it be like if police officers would choose and pick which law they would uphold?

    February 23, 2011 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  14. allanhowls

    Smaller government starts with getting them out of our collective bedrooms!

    February 23, 2011 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  15. Jon in Rochester NY

    Go Obama! Thanks for standing up to the fundies and doing the right thing. No discrimination based on sexual orientation! DOMA should never have been made the law of the land. You 'll take flack from the right for this but you've gained a lot of respect in my eyes.

    February 23, 2011 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  16. Keith

    This is excellent news and shows that President Obama has the courage to abandon the defense of of an act that blatantly encourages the discrimination of Americans based on their sexual orientation. I believe this puts the United States one step closer to legalizing same sex marriage which should be the law of the land. I applaud the president's decision.

    February 23, 2011 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  17. Me

    I am beginning to think this man is the anti-Christ.

    February 23, 2011 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  18. wileysee

    I agree that the law maybe wrong, but I always thought that the Supreme Court was the branch of government to make the decision what is or is not constitutional. What happened to separation of powers. Can anyone now decide what laws to obey and what laws to "blow-off"? Wow, this is a game changer. Do the states now have this power? Can they now secede from the Union and do as they like?

    February 23, 2011 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  19. Militarymale

    Its amazing that our very own president can choose which laws to uphold and which ones to dismiss without due process. This is more a dictator action that a president of the united states that upholds the laws and constitution of the united states in which he formally took the oath. Failure to honor the oath should be removal from office. Whats next since we are already paying for the governments failure to keep our budget in balance, those responsible for the decisions that put us in debt should have to pay them.

    February 23, 2011 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  20. dannytelevision

    That is what a president does. Preserve, protect, and defend the constitution of the United States! Thank you president Obama!

    February 23, 2011 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  21. Dave IL

    So now the President gets to decide what laws are unconstitutional and unworthy of defense by the Justice Department? I think Congress should cut off all funding for the Justice Department until they accept that they should defend all the laws passed by the government. Think how the liberals would scream if Obama loses in 2012 and the next President decides not to defend the Healthcare Bill or the Don't Ask – Don't Tell or any of his other "accomplishments".

    February 23, 2011 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  22. Doug in NYC

    Does this mean Newt, Larry Craig and Mark Foley are free to marry their boyfriends?

    February 23, 2011 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  23. ChairTripper

    I can already hear the bigots and haters screaming... How this negatively impacts my marriage of 20+ years I can't possibly imagine. Let people who love each other marry each other, I'm sure this won't affect the rate of divorce or infidelity one way or the other.

    February 23, 2011 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  24. A. Goodwin

    This is FANTASTIC!!! Another great step forward for our country from bigotry and racism. LOVE YOU OBAMA!!

    February 23, 2011 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  25. Crimny


    February 23, 2011 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7