Gay-Rights Victory: Obama Administration Won't Defend Defense of Marriage Act

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said that he and President Obama had determined that the law's key section is unconstitutional.

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President Barack Obama

The Washington Post is reporting that the Obama administration announced Wednesday that it will no longer defend the constitutionality of the federal government's ban on recognizing same-sex marriages, a rare legal reversal and the latest in a series of political victories for gay-rights activists.

The Justice Department had appealed the decision of a federal judge in Massachusetts who struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in July, saying that it was obligated to defend federal statutes. The 1996 law defines marriage from the federal perspective as being between a man and a woman, which means that same-sex married couples are denied access to marriage-based federal benefits.

In an extraordinary change, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said Wednesday that he and President Obama had determined -- after an extensive review -- that the law's key section is unconstitutional. "Given that conclusion, the President has instructed the Department not to defend the statute" in court, Holder said in a statement. Administration officials said that the review was triggered by a court-imposed filing deadline in two new legal challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act, filed in federal courts in New York and Connecticut.

This is a victory for the gay community and Obama, who needs to reconnect with the gay community, with whom he has had a frosty relationship since taking office. While Obama says that he opposes gay marriage, he has always said that the Defense of Marriage Act is "unnecessary and unfair." Folks always want the government to get out of the lives of private citizens. Here is a good example.

Read more at the Washington Post.

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