2011 February 23

Obama Administration Stops Defending Defense of Marriage Act


Attorney General Eric Holder told Congress on this day that President Barack Obama had decided that his administration would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The federal law, passed on September 21, 1996, defined marriage as between only a man and a woman and dictated that the federal government would not recognize same-sex marriages. The law had profound practical effects, since about 1,100 federal laws and regulations involved marriage. Some of the most important involved Social Security benefits, military service benefits, and federal income tax provisions.

Two years later, on June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court declared a major part of DOMA unconstitutional, in United States v. Windsor. The Obama administration did not defend the law in court. In the year following Windsor, a number of federal district courts declared state prohibitions on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional, and another major Supreme Court ruling on the issue seemed inevitable.

On June 26, 2015, in Obergefell v. Hudson, the Supreme Court declared that same-sex marriage was constitutional in the entire United States under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

From the DOJ Statement to Congress:  “After careful consideration, including a review of my recommendation, the President has concluded that […] classifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to a more heightened standard of scrutiny. The President has also concluded that Section 3 of DOMA, as applied to legally married same-sex couples, fails to meet that standard and is therefore unconstitutional. Given that conclusion, the President has instructed the Department not to defend the statute in such cases. I fully concur with the President’s determination.”

Read the entire Statement: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2011/February/11-ag-222.html

Learn more at a timeline on same-sex marriagehttp://www.freedomtomarry.org/pages/history-and-timeline-of-marriage


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