The Justice Department said in a court filing submitted today that the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act discriminates against gays but DOJ will continue to uphold the federal law that does not recognize gay marriage as long as it is on the books. Read the filing obtained by Politico here.
DOJ is seeking to have an anti-DOMA suit filed by a gay California couple thrown out. President Obama has been under attack by gay rights groups for DOJ’s defense of the federal law that does not recognize gay marriage.
Justice Department officials and Obama met in June with organizations that were angry about DOJ’s efforts to uphold DOMA, which leaves the decision to recognize gay marriage up to the states. He told gay rights advocates that he is committed to gay rights and supported repealing DOMA.
“This administration does not support DOMA as a matter of policy, believes that it is discriminatory, and supports its repeal,” DOJ Senior Trial Counsel Scott Simpson wrote in the filing today. ”Consistent with the rule of law, however, the Department of Justice has long followed the practice of defending federal statutes as long as reasonable arguments can be made in support of their constitutionality, even if the department disagrees with a particular statute as a policy matter, as it does here.”
He added in a footnote: “This longstanding and bipartisan tradition accords the respect appropriately due to a coequal branch of government and ensures that subsequent administrations will faithfully defend laws with which they may disagree on policy grounds.”