The Obama Administration: More Of The Same On Same-Sex Marriage

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on June 14, 2009

I intend to keep the focus of this blog on the Iranian elections for as long as possible. But I could not let the Obama Administration’s decision to echo the Bush Administration line on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) go unmentioned:

As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama claimed “we need to fully repeal the Defense of Marriage Act,” which says states are not required to recognize other states’ same-sex marriages.

That was then. This week, the Obama administration is facing the ire of gay rights groups after it filed a brief in California federal court defending the Defense of Marriage Act and calling it a “valid exercise of Congress’ power” that is saving taxpayers money.

The Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, was signed into law by President Clinton in 1996. It doesn’t prohibit same-sex marriages; instead, it says that no state “shall be required” to honor same-sex marriages taking place elsewhere or any “right or claim arising from such relationship.”

Two married California men, Arthur Smelt and Christopher Hammer, sued the federal government to overturn DOMA. They claim that it violates their constitutionally-protected rights to travel, their rights to free speech, and their due process rights.

The U.S. Justice Department’s brief doesn’t address the morality of same-sex marriage. Instead, it makes the narrower legal argument that DOMA “merely permits each state to follow its own policy with respect to marriage” and the law “does not restrict any rights that have been recognized as fundamental.” It also says that it saves money by not paying out marriage benefits under federal law, a move that “preserves scarce government resources.”

Gay rights groups are livid on this issue, and understandably so; marriage is considered a fundamental right under the Constitution (the question, of course, becomes whether same-sex marriage is a fundamental right). But really, on the political front, who can be surprised? It was clear–or should have been–from the very beginning, that Barack Obama would use the LGBT community to get himself elected, and then ditch the community at the very first opportunity. Maybe if the now-outraged Andrew Sullivan had paid more attention to the important issues of the day, and less attention to Trig Palin’s matrilineal line, he would have seen this coming.

As the CBS story points out, the Justice Department could have declined to defend DOMA–just as the Justice Department has, in the past, declined to defend other acts of Congress. Instead, the Justice Department plunged into the defense of DOMA with both feet. The betrayal of the LGBT community is now complete; a terrible pity in my book, as I support same-sex marriage.

  • monroecolby

    I think DOMA is disgusting, but the case that the DOJ has chosen to oppose is an insignificant one. I'm reserving judgement, against Obama, for the real knock out case. The Perry vs. Schwarzenegger federal court challenge to proposition 8. If Obama chooses to argue against this case, that begins on July 2nd, he would signal that he wants the case to be challenged, and that it is a worthy challenge.

    It would be even better if he chose to support the challenge of Perry vs. Schwarzenegger. We'll see what happens.

  • ryeneck

    Shame on Mr. Obama,and he knows better, but as Malcolm X once said, a snake's a snake, whether it's black or white..

    Joe Mustich, Justice of the Peace
    Washington CT USA

    Kudos to New England and Iowa.

    It's time America, for marriage equality and fairness.

    This summer I will be officiating at marriages of loving couples who are coming to CT to wed from CA, NY, VA, DC and LA, because they aren't allowed to wed in their own home states.

    Again, shame on Obama, and we know what Malcolm X said about “House Negroes” too.

  • shadow_man

    Homosexuality is not a choice. Just like you don't choose the color of your skin, you cannot choose whom you are sexually attracted to. If you can, sorry, but you are not heterosexual, you are bi-sexual. Virtually all major psychological and medical experts agree that sexual orientation is NOT a choice. Most gay people will tell you its not a choice. Common sense will tell you its not a choice. While science is relatively new to studying homosexuality, studies tend to indicate that its biological.
    Gay, Straight Men's Brain Responses Differ,2933,155990,00.html

    There is overwhelming scientific evidence that homosexuality is not a choice. Sexual orientation is generally a biological trait that is determined pre-natally, although there is no one certain thing that explains all of the cases. “Nurture” may have some effect, but for the most part it is biological.

    And it should also be noted that:
    “It is worth noting that many medical and scientific organisations do believe it is impossible to change a person's sexual orientation and this is displayed in a statement by American Academy of Pediatrics, American Counseling Association, American Association of School Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, American School Health Association, Interfaith Alliance Foundation, National Association of School Psychologists, National Association of Social Workers, and National Education Association.”

  • shadow_man

    Violence against a minority group

    Gays are being beaten, shot at, sent to the hospital, killed. In the Middle East, they are killing gays among other groups out of hatred. Is this what we want America to become? Do we want America to revert back to the 1960's when groups were killed and segregated against for simply no good reason? Do we want to follow the ways of the Middle East and Al Queda? Let's push forward, it's time to end bigotry, discrimination, hate, and ignorance. This is modern America, not the Dark Ages.

  • shadow_man

    What God really says about homosexuality. It is NOT a sin.

    Homosexuality is not a sin according to the Bible. Any educated Christian would know that. Scholars who have studied the Bible in context of the times and in relation to other passages have shown those passages (Leviticus, Corinthians, Romans, etc) have nothing to do with homosexuality. These passages often cherry-picked while ignoring the rest of the Bible. The sins theses passages are referring to are idolatry, prostitution, and rape, not homosexuality.

    Thats why Jesus never mentions it as well. There is nothing immoral, wrong, or sinful about being gay. Jesus, however, clearly states he HATES hypocrites. If you preach goodness, then promote hate and twist the words of the Bible, you are a hypocrite, and will be judged and sent to hell. Homosexuals will not go to hell, hypocrites will.

    This is very similar to the religious bigots of the past, where they took Bible passages to condone slavery, keep women down, and used Bible passages to claim blacks as curses who should be enslaved by the white man. People used God to claim that blacks marrying whites was unnatural, and not of God's will.

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