Obama Stops Defending DOMA
Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Friday and we have almost made it through another work week. I hope you have had a safe and great week so far. It is going to be another busy weekend for Dab the AIDS Bear and me.
I read some exciting news yesterday. While I normally talk about issues concerning HIV and AIDS, today I am going to talk about an equality issue.
All of my readers should know by now that I am a gay man. I have been lucky to have a loving accepting family and many great friends both LGBT and heterosexual.
In 2000, my partner and I took part in the mass holy union at the Lincoln Memorial at the March on Washington. There were over 1,000 couples who were joined during the celebration in a public showing of their love for each other. My partner and I were surprised CNN Headline News showed clips the entire next day of us exchanging our vows and then kissing. At the time, it was the longest male to male kiss aired on national television.
So I was very excited to read the latest news yesterday.
In a rare and extraordinary step, today the Obama Administration announced that it will stop defending the discriminatory federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court specifically, the section that denies federal benefits to married same sex couples.
DOMA keeps these couples from getting family and medical leave, Social Security survivors' benefits, joint tax filing, and immigration rights, among many other benefits.
You helped bring about this historic day. Dab the AIDS Bear supporters like you have written tens of thousands of letters to President Obama, shared thousands of personal stories of how DOMA has hurt their families, and helped us engage in years of advocacy on this issue with the administration.
As President Obama himself has said, DOMA unfairly discriminates against Americans. He needs to know how many people applaud his decision to defend the principles of the constitution.
Thank the President for standing up for same sex couples and their families.
The Obama Administration has dealt a double blow to DOMA today. Not only has it stopped defending this law (which the president has long called discriminatory), it has affirmed that any law that discriminates based on sexual orientation should have to pass a higher legal test in court.
This is a monumental decision for thousands of same sex couples and their families.
The nation's top law enforcement agency said in a media advisory that in reviewing two lawsuits, Pedersen v. OPM and Windsor v. United States, the president concluded that the act did not meet constitutional standards against discrimination.
From now on, they added, in cases where Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act is challenged, the Department of Justice will no longer offer a defense.
"In these cases, the Administration faces for the first time the question of whether laws regarding sexual orientation are subject to the more permissive standard of review or whether a more rigorous standard, under which laws targeting minority groups with a history of discrimination are viewed with suspicion by the courts, should apply," the department's media advisory said.
What this means is that the administration will no longer uphold Section 3 of the act as it applies to couples that are already legally married in states that have allowed same-sex couples.
It does not mean the ban on gay marriage has been lifted.
"Section 3 of DOMA will continue to remain in effect unless Congress repeals it or there is a final judicial finding that strikes it down, and the President has informed me that the Executive Branch will continue to enforce the law," Attorney General Eric Holder's statement read. "But while both the wisdom and the legality of Section 3 of DOMA will continue to be the subject of both extensive litigation and public debate, this Administration will no longer assert its constitutionality in court."
Unfortunately, anti-LGBT leaders in Congress may have a chance to defend the law themselves, so it is not the end of the road for DOMA.
But together, we can fight any attempt to waste taxpayer dollars defending this patently unconstitutional law. The federal government has no business picking and choosing which legal marriages they want to recognize.
Please take the time to send a message to the President thanking him for today's decision by going to the following link on the Human Rights Campaign website:
Hopefully one day soon all Americans will truly be equal!
Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.
big bear hug,