Even with President Obama’s evolution on marriage equality, many from both sides of the political fence doubted that his administration would intervene the DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) and Prop 8 court cases to be heard by the Supreme Court. Well, as reported by Buzzfeed, today President Obama and his administration formally challenged that idea by releasing a brief arguing how DOMA is unconstitutional.
The first thing the administration argues is the use of “husband/wife” and how “Marriage” would be federally defined as between as one man and one woman:
Section 3 of DOMA violates the fundamental constitutional guarantee of equal protection. The law denies to tens of thousands of same-sex couples who are legally married under state law an array of important federal benefits that are available to legally married opposite-sex couples. Because this discrimination cannot be justified as substantially furthering any important governmental interest, Section 3 is unconstitutional.
The administration also addresses how making sexual orientation a factor in marriage that such a law would be discriminatory:
To the extent sexual orientation may be considered to fall short in some dimension [to have heightened scrutiny applied], the history of discrimination and the absence of relation to one’s capabilities associated with this particular classification would uniquely qualify it for scrutiny under an approach that calls for a measure of added focus to guard against giving effect to a desire to harm an “unpopular group.”
In addition, the administration also opposes the Republican-backed Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG), who argues that this is not for the Supreme Court to decide:
BLAG makes an appeal to this Court to allow the democratic process to run its course. That approach would be very well taken in most circumstances. This is, however, the rare case in which deference to the democratic process must give way to the fundamental constitutional command of equal treatment under law. Section 3 of DOMA targets the many gay and lesbian people legally married under state law for a harsh form of discrimination that bears no relation to their ability to contribute to society. It is abundantly clear that this discrimination does not substantially advance an interest in protecting marriage, or any other important interest. The statute simply cannot be reconciled with the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection. The Constitution therefore requires that Section 3 be invalidated.
As a result, do you think that having the input from the Obama administration will actually sway the supreme court justices in striking down DOMA? And does this mean that President Obama will also address ENDA and fight for a measure to protect LGBT in the workforce? It’s possible, especially with the talk that he was going to address this in his State of the Union speech earlier this month. Let’s hope that these steps are just the beginning.