Department Of Justice Appeals DOMA Ruling

Obamafail With the good news that Judge Virginia Phillips ruled Don't Ask, Don't Tell unconstitutional comes the bad news that the Obama Administration has filed appeals against another judge's decisions to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act.

U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Tauro of Boston ruled in Gill v. Office of Personnel Management and Commonwealth of Massachusetts vs. Department of Health and Human Services earlier this year that DOMA violates the Fifth Amendment and impedes the state of Massachusetts's ability to define marriage.

While the Justice Department's appeal comes as no surprise, it will do nothing to endear the President to liberals and progressives offended by broken campaign promises.

For their part, Justice Department officials insist they're just doing their job, and reassured a potentially angry public that the President is dedicated to ending DOMA."The Justice Department is defending the statute, as it traditionally does when acts of Congress are challenged," said the Department in its statement. "As a policy matter, the President has made clear that he believes DOMA is discriminatory and should be repealed. The Department of Justice has a longstanding practice of defending federal statutes when they are challenged in court…"


  1. walter says

    the obama aministration screwa us again, he can’t figure why LGBT community isn’t flocking to his support. if it wasn’t for tea party canidates being so homophobic the dems would go down in flames. the politiians
    don’t care about us

  2. adamblast says

    So Obama believes it’s discriminatory–note he never says unconstitutional–but it’s important to defend the discrimination because of…. DOJ tradition? Really?

    If tradition trumps equality you wouldn’t be here, Obama.

  3. Terry says

    This is all predicated on SCOTUS ultimately ruling. I can count at least 4 votes in favor of DOMA. This is not good at all.

    And this isn’t exactly the way to motivate your base to vote in an election just 3 weeks away.

  4. TomTallis says

    From our perspective this appeal is a good thing (although I’m going to be interested to read it to see just how insulting and demeaning the language is). I’m half of a bi-national couple so the higher it’s appealed (so long as we win) the better.

  5. Brad says

    If Obama had left it alone, we’d be done with DOMA. The ruling declared DOMA unconstitutional. It was done. By appealing it, Obama is continuing the fight to keep the law in place. He doesn’t have any obligation to appeal. He had been given a gift to end what he called an abhorrent law. Instead he appealed it. He’s not doing us any favors. He’s just showing himself up as the homophobe he is.

  6. TANK says

    This was expected by me, anyway. Though I do care about issues outside of gay equality and know that persuant to these aims, the republicans have awful suggestions and initiatives, I’ll not shed a tear if the dems get trounced in november.

  7. Jaybird89101 says

    One more giant step the Obama administration is taking away from its GLBT constituency. If this DOJ move isn’t prophetic regarding this President’s bold lack of professed advocacy on our behalf, then nothing is. And, believe me, I’ll still have my memory fully intact when the November 2012 election rolls around and Obama wants four more years. I sure as hell WON’T be supporting the GOP but I can see no way I’d be supporting the re-election of this administration either. And that goes for many Congressional Dems who’ve done nothing to move forward on our civil rights. What a damn shame, too, after so much hope following election night in November 2008. I guess it’s wise to be careful who you vote for as they may just stab you in the back — again and again and again!

  8. jason says

    So Obama is “dedicated” to gay rights, is he? Well, he doesn’t seem to be showing it.

    Obama is trashing the Democratic Party brand in terms of the relationship it has built up with the GLBT community over the years. No more Democratic Party for me.

  9. LincolnLounger says

    It’s OK. I’m sure the White House will have a reception for the HRC crowd and the professional gays, and all will be fine.

    Now everybody get out your checkbooks and work those precincts for the Democrats!

    Meanwhile, the gay Republicans get DADT struck down.

  10. Brian in Texas says

    DOMA is federal law. A citizen challenged the law in court and of course the federal govt will defend its laws. Why would you be surprised that they would appeal the district courts decision? It has nothing to do with the President’s personal opinion of the law. If the lower court’s ruling is upheld by the appeals court and the DOJ doesn’t appeal Obama would applaud that.

    Congress needs to enact legislation to repeal the law.

    All of you who are childishly saying the democrats have failed you and you won’t vote or support democrats or Obama, are only shooting yourselves in the foot. You’re part of the problem with politics.

    Quite frankly with that attitude you’re damaging the LGBT and progressive cause. The more republicans in congress the less likely any pro LGBT legislation will come to light.

    Change and progress move slow and in pieces. It doesn’t happen over night or less than halfway into a democratic administration. You were naive if you thought that in the first place.

  11. Craig says

    If the courts are doing everything the current administration has failed to do in regards to social change (gay marriage, dadt, doma) – wtf do we need the Democrats for then?? It’s crap like this that will have Bat Sh*t crazy Sharon Angle as the next senator from Arizona.

  12. Ted B. (Charging Rhino) says

    Standby for yet another round of obfuscation by the professional apologists of Gay, Inc. and the HRC on the behalf of the “fierce advocate”.

  13. says

    I don’t get it. The Governator and Jerry Brown refused to challenge the courts ruling, and Obama could have easily done the same. AM I right or am I not smart enough to understand our legal system. I call Bull Shit!

  14. ravewulf says

    I wonder how they expect to be able to defend DOMA. Regardless, they will lose (in addition to losing more political support than they already have). No matter how you look at this, it’s a bad move.

  15. pete says

    I’m w/ Rick on this… I think it’s a calculated move that isolating the ‘gays’ is less dangerous than pissing off conservatives who absolutely WILL walk to the other party.

    I’m mixed about it. Of course I want equality, yesterday already, but if all these challenges occur and courts continue to re-state the obvious, doesn’t that ultimately help us, while letting BO have it both ways?

  16. JNJ says

    I’m sick of it. I’m tired of waiting and I’m tired of the empty promises. Shit, I might as well have voted for McCain and Palin – at least I wouldn’t have been lied to and jerked around.

  17. ravewulf says


    If you are going to make a comparison, make it apples to apples. Democrat polititian vs Republican polititian, gay Republicans vs gay Democrats (Democrat polititian vs gay Republicans is not a valid comparison)

  18. malo says

    I am telling you now; I am voting Democrat in 3 weeks, we have no choice but I will never ever give you money unless something good comes our way soon. You are making cynics and bitter people out of us Mr. President.

  19. says

    I hope Ari Ezra Waldman is reading these comments because I have a legal question that he could probably answer. My question is if discriminatory laws like those on race, were still on the books, and a judge ruled today that they were unconstitutional, does the Justice Department have an obligation to defend the discriminatory law? Or can the Justice Department do what the California Governor and our Attorney General has done with respect to Prop 8 and decide not to fight it? Just curious.

  20. So Left I'm Right says

    It is complete and utter bullshit that the DoJ is under any obligation to defend DOMA or any other law IF they agree with the Constitutional argument the court makes to overturn said law. They could simply say, oh, actually, yeah, you’re right, Congress fucked up, done and done. Perhaps Obama and Holder don’t agree in the Constitutional arguments being made, but then they should man up and say so, not give some weak-ass defense about “tradition”.

    DOMA is first among many insane laws of dubious Constitutionality that Congress has passed and numerous recent presidents have demonstrated poor judgment in signing. That’s actually why we have courts for fuck’s sake! It’s not a given that Congress should go back and repeal and/or “correct” appalling (isn’t that what Obama called it?) laws like DOMA or DADT. It would be fine and fabulous, but absolutely not required. In fact, when they have passed such egregious, bullshit, unconstitutional laws, it should be on them to go back and attempt to pass a law to reach their objectives that complies with the Constitution, if those objectives even still hold, when they are called out by the courts. How about that? I know it puts too much in the hands of “activist” judges, but when lawmakers can’t obey the governing document of the country, and demonstrate increasingly poor knowledge of what it even says, I don’t put much faith in them or the Constitutional “scholar” in the White House.

  21. Jeff says

    Brian in Texas: The Justice Department is Obama’s. It’s part of the Executive branch of government. He is the boss.

    This is a lawsuit we won, and his administration is fighting to overturn our victory. It’s well within his rights as Executive to shrug, say “we tried to defend it but, you know, the court did its job and its ruling makes sense and we agree, the end.” He is hiding behind “DOJ tradition” in an election year. At best, it shows us that he thinks the law is constitutionally discriminatory — that it’s wrong but not WRONG. And I believe that’s how he thinks of our rights — it would be good to treat us more fairly under the law, like a gift from benevolent straights, but we do not inherently deserve equality, as in rights. You can see it in his view of marriage, that we are lesser kinds of people with no right to the special thing straight people have.

  22. Ari says

    Hi, dear readers!

    @SecretIdentity: Thank you for your comments. And, thanks to Andrew for forwarding me the comments (I don’t see comments to pieces I don’t write myself). The DOJ is not required to defend or appeal an adverse ruling on current law. Some states have statutes on the books that say that the executive must defend all state laws in court pursuant to his role as the “executor” of duely enacted laws. But the federal government has no such requirement. The Supreme Court has never had the occasion to rule on whether the executive power in Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution so requires the president to act, so most scholars agree that the president does not have to appeal.

    Now, that does not mean that an appeal is necessarily a bad thing. Let me play devil’s advocate for a moment. You know that 14 states are challenging health care reform, right? Particularly, they are challenging the requirement that everyone must buy health insurance as a violation of the Commerce Clause. It’s a dubious argument indeed, but certainly not irrational. If these state AsG (attorneys general) find a friendly district court judge and that judge issues an injunction that declares health care reform unconstitutional, that judge might be asked to issue an injunction to prevent implementation. The federal government does not want that to happen, not out of some love of health care, but as a matter of executive power. Every administration, of either party, has argued before that a single district court cannot bind the entire nation. If it could, every federal law would be subject to a ruling of a the hundreds of district court judges in the land! That doesn’t seem like an effective way to run a government.

    Also, an appeal could result a win for pro-equality forces (i.e., affirm that DADT is unconstitutional). An appellate court decision certainly has more precedential weight than a district court.

    In any event, these are side issues to think about. But, to answer your question, no… President Obama is under no legal obligation to appeal Judge Phillips ruling declaring DADT unconstitutional. He can let the injunction stand. I don’t think he will, but he could.

  23. Ari says

    oh, and sorry if i was confusing. i realized i referred to an appeal of DADT when the post and your question was about the already-announced appeal of DOMA. analysis/answer still applies. sorry for any confusion!

  24. candideinnc says

    I used to think, “No, the Democrats wouldn’t let down the gays just to keep the money flowing into their coffers.” Boy, was I wrong! They want the gay issues to go on forever. Keep that carrot on the stick just beyond reach and we will keep doing the hard labor. I couldn’t IMAGINE the Thugs doing this to their constituents. Obama is an a**hole.

  25. Jim says

    This is very disheartening. Was the deadline to file an appeal coming up? In other words, could Obama and the DOJ have waited until after the election and announced their intention then?

  26. Joe says

    The way I understand it, if this appeal for DOMA does not happen, that only makes the law change in MA, not anywhere else. DOMA would then have to be challenged in other states. By appealing the decision, a Federal Court could rule it unconstitutional on a Federal level and then it would be applied across all states and not just MA.

    Same thing with the Prop 8 ruling, if it doesn’t go to the next court, the changes only apply to CA. While it sucks that the DOJ challenged DOMA, hopefully in the long run it will be a good thing. DADT is a different case though, the way the judge made her ruling it does apply across the board and the DOJ can do nothing and the law would change provided Congress does not decide to appeal the ruling. They have the ability to appeal it if the President/DOJ decides not to.

    As much as it pains me, I will still be voting Democrat even though they have let me down time and time again. These judicial appointments (which are the only way we are going to get our rights) are too important to let a Republican president appoint.

  27. ratbastard says

    This government is going down. The Obama administration will be a minority government in 3 weeks, and we’re going to see basically gridlock for a long time to come.

    Anybody who won the 2008 general election would be screwed by the midterms, Obama or anyone else. He was handed a major lemon. It will take years more to get a handle on the terrible financial collapse we’re living through, and politics in a democracy is unforgiving, where short-term goals are more important than long term for getting re-elected. People are angry about everything right now which is bad news for whoever is in power.

  28. David in Houston says

    “The Department of Justice has a longstanding practice of defending federal statutes when they are challenged in court…”

    I also have a practice of not donating money to Democrats (and the DNC) that don’t give a crap about me or my civil rights. Funny how that works out.

  29. Joe says

    @Jim . . . There were 2 DOMA cases from MA, the deadline for the lawsuit filed by the Commonwealth was today and the deadline for the Gill case is Oct 18th. So either case, they had to do it before the midterm elections.

  30. Randy says

    The Justice Department has a longstanding practice of defending statutes, because it has a longstanding practice of defending statutes that the administration SUPPORTS, not because laws they DON’T support get challenged regularly.

    I know Obama has chosen not to defend some other statutes, and other presidents also have chosen not to defend laws they disagree with. It would be nice to have a handy list of such cases. Does anyone have that list?

  31. RED DEVIL says

    You dumb bitches…whine and complain..That’s why we want you to VOTE RED in Nov.

    Because We will make DOMA, DADT and all back law again TO STAY…and There will never be any ENDA.

    You fuck faces go ahead Please continue to HATE OBAMA we love it. Just like all of us GOP gays this means NOTHING to us. So vote red and watch all the horror come your way!

  32. THE QUEEN says


  33. Christie says

    As much of a work Obama is, I think his DOJ is a steaming pile of manure. How do these people sleep at night, really?

    That must be some heavy ass medication know that the acts you did that day denied rights, propagates hate crimes, and told millions their lives aren’t worth shit.

    I guess this is Obama’s true colors. Screw him. He had history on a silver platter handed to him more than once. He had all the stars and planets lined up to commit to equality. He still managed to screw it up – because he chooses to.

    This whole situation is ending up like one of those Downfall Hitler memes on YouTube.
    All the while he “says” he is for equality, but he does nothing for it.

    Worse so, he never explains why he is doing it. I believe after all this crap, we as a community deserve an answer from the horse’s mouth!

  34. says

    Kudos to Judge Phillips!

    But Jeez, I’m so glad that I didn’t vote for Brand Obama in 2008; he’s nothing but Bush 43 in blackface….

    Cheers, Joe Mustich, Justice of the Peace,
    Red Studio Farm, Washington, CT , USA.

  35. says

    If they let the court ruling stand and did not appeal, the decision would only be enforceable in the states covered by that district court. Other states would still be bound by DOMA. By appealing the decision, the administration is counting on the courts to do what it has failed to do and get rid of DOMA across the country. This however is a gamble as it is unknown how the Supremes will ultimately rule.

  36. matt says

    The Obama administration has the descretion to choose which rulings they appeal. They didn’t have to appeal this. They could have refused to appeal this ruling just like Schwartzenegger and Jerry Brown refused to appeal the prop 8 ruling. I won’t vote Republican but I will no longer vote Democrat either. We have more than 2 choices. At least the Republicans are honest about not liking us.

  37. Lester Aponte says

    I noticed the administration is no longer saying it is “required” or “obligated” to defend laws they may not agree with. That is pure unadulterated B.S. Now they are saying it is what is “traditionally” done. That Clintonesque answer is born of the same motivation that gave us this abomination of a law in the first place: COWARDICE.

  38. Continuum says

    The Obama Administration . . . once again snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

    DADT, DOMA etc . . . he’s proven to be useless and spineless.

    I’ll be working for some Dem other than Obama when 2012 comes around.

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