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. irene

    At last, the voice of reason. Our government has no place defending the bigotry of right-wing fascists. If you don't believe in gay marriage, don't marry one and shut up already!

    February 23, 2011 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  2. Larry

    Before this goes crazy, yes, some of us realize that being against same-sex marriage doesn't make you a monster or a bigot. You might have other reasons. But from my point of view, I just don't see how two men or two women getting married in any way, shape or form affects two people of the opposite sex getting married. I would think the primarily straight world would want gay people in stable relationships. And as for those who say it is against god's laws, look carefully at your bible and note the many "gods laws" you don't follow. Plus, this is NOT a theocracy, regardless of what the likes of Pat Robertson and his ilk think.

    February 23, 2011 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  3. Odumbo

    So now this clown can decide which laws he will defend and not defend? Impeach that monkey!

    February 23, 2011 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  4. T Diddy

    I could care less if gays married or not, but obama now says he will not defend a law that is on the books just goes to show you what a pinhead he is. I hope he gets impeached soon, before he does any more damage!

    February 23, 2011 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  5. Serdna

    Slowly but surely, logic and decency will prevail. Thank you, Mr. President, for doing the (overdue) right thing.

    February 23, 2011 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  6. J

    Seperation of Church and state... Good job Obama.

    February 23, 2011 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  7. Sarah

    Finally. I'm wondering what took so long? Did they just now realize its completely unconstitutional or was the time right to do something to appeal to the Democratic base?

    Even the Republican that introduced the bill to Congress has been calling for its repeal since 2008!

    February 23, 2011 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  8. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    First sensible thing Obama has done in a while.

    February 23, 2011 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  9. Terry P

    Obama counted his support and found he is on the skids – so now he is pandering to the Gay vote in an effort to salvage his administration.

    February 23, 2011 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  10. AR

    All throughout history, from the Ancient Greeks and Romans as well as – yes, dare I say it – the BIBLE to modern day men have always kissed and felt affection toward each other. What's wrong with two people – whether both men or both women – feeling affection toward each other?

    February 23, 2011 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  11. epdemer

    Go figure...now King Obama wants to ajudicate from the Oval Office? It is the Attorney General's job to defend the laws of this nation, it is the President's job to ensure that the laws are enforced, and it is the Supreme Court's job to determine whether those laws are or are not, in fact, constitutional. While Mr. Obama and Mr. Holden may disagree with the law, it is not their job to determine its Consitutionality-or to simply toss the law out. If he wants the law changed, he needs to go through the proper channels to have it overturned.

    February 23, 2011 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  12. Defend or Detract - Work It!

    I like the timing for this. If all the Righty Christo-fascists loons stand behind that blow-hard rushed limball and laugh at his stoopid insults of the First Lady, this will serve to deflect them away from their hatefest. Bring-on the next controversy and pass some more liberal decisions O-man. We need more fight from our democratic ELECTED officials!

    February 23, 2011 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  13. vegas01

    Guess he'll issue an executive order that Webster make an edit to the dictionary next.

    February 23, 2011 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  14. Me

    Wait a tic, I didn't post either one of those comment...Somebody is impersonating...Me

    February 23, 2011 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  15. Matrix

    It's a step in the right direction, but the ultimate goal is to get all levels of government out of marriage and leave it as a contract between two or more consenting individuals.

    February 23, 2011 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  16. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Let freedom ring, for one and for all, God has the final say and not man. It is unconstitutional for anyone to deny human rights of another by playing the role of God because we are all his children.

    February 23, 2011 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  17. Me

    Nah, you just have a split personality. – other me.

    February 23, 2011 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  18. Marcus in Greensboro, NC

    It's about time somebody stood up for the GLBT community. That law has always been unconstitutional and never should have been passed by Congress. The Defense of Marriage Act is un-American, unconstitutional, and completely a violation of equal protection under the law. I am happy to hear that he has ordered the Justice Department to stop defending such a travesty of our constitution.

    February 23, 2011 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  19. Disgruntled Libertarian

    Good news! IMO, the government shouldn't tell people who they can or can't marry. And as for the fascist, religious right-wing, if marriage is so "sacred" and "holy", then why do over half of them in divorce? What's so sacred about that? And how does Bill and Ted getting married affect your lives in any way? The madness needs to stop, and soon!

    February 23, 2011 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  20. JPBulldog

    Setting aside personal views on the issue, I am curious about the level of discretion the President has in executing laws. My understanding has always been that the President was responsible for arranging the necessary government agencies to execute the laws legislated by Congress (hence, the "executive" and "legislative" tags for the branches). It would seem that refusing to defend a law that was legislated is perilously close to refusing to execute it, which would be a violation of duties for the chief executive. There are several "doomsday" scenarios that could be thrown about, which I typically believe to be ridiculous, but I'm curious to know what leeway the President has in executing laws on the books. Any thoughts?

    February 23, 2011 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  21. Inmyopinion

    What if we get a Republican president in 2012 and that president disagrees with Obama's Healthcare law and decides not to uphold it?

    February 23, 2011 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  22. Roger

    About time.

    February 23, 2011 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  23. Mucklucky

    The President does not have the authority to say the standards and constituionality of laws... that is why we have separation of powers set aside in our Constitution for the Supreme Court.

    February 23, 2011 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  24. Steve in Denver

    I'm glad Americans have finally come to their senes, as popular support for DOMA and anti-gay policy has dramatically dropped over the past several years. Yay!

    Now, if only those people who became enlightened would now focus on the other policies neocons espouse (tax cuts for the wealthy while saying we're broke and must cut middle class positions, deficits don't matter unless a Democrat is causing them, the environment is there to be raped and ravaged by anybody making money, etc., family values are important unless you are a republican adulterer, Michelle Obama is fat said by a grossly obese radio host), we'd have the end of this neocon movement.

    February 23, 2011 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  25. Roger

    Well it's about time.

    February 23, 2011 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
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