New DOMA brief admits discrimination, but will continue to defend law

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Department of JusticeThe Department of Justice has filed a new DOMA brief in Federal Court today that softens the anti-gay rhetoric but still defends the law while it remains on the books.

Justice Department lawyers are seeking to dismiss a suit brought by a gay California couple challenging the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. The administration’s response to the case has angered gay activists who see it as backtracking on campaign promises made by Barack Obama last year.

In court papers, the administration said it supports repeal of the law.

Yet the same filing says the Justice Department will defend the statute in this case because a reasonable argument can be made that the law is constitutional.

“The administration believes the Defense of Marriage Act is discriminatory and should be repealed,” said Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler, because it prevents equal rights and benefits.

The department is obligated “to defend federal statutes when they are challenged in court. The Justice Department cannot pick and choose which federal laws it will defend based on any one administration’s policy preferences,” Schmaler added.

A previous filing in June sparked outrage in the LGBT community for citing incest and underage marriage in defense of DOMA.

Post by ILO on 08/17/09 at 10:14 am