Attorney General Tells Congress: DOJ Won’t Defend Laws Discriminating Against Gay Servicemembers

Attorney General Eric Holder sent a letter to congressional leaders today telling them that the Department of Justice would no longer defend laws that prevent gay couples from receiving military and veterans benefits given to their heterosexual counterparts, Talking Points Memo reports:

2kiss“The legislative record of these provisions contains no rationale for providing veterans’ benefits to opposite-sex couples of veterans but not to legally married same-sex spouses of veterans,” Holder wrote. “Neither the Department of Defense nor the Department of Veterans Affairs identified any justifications for that distinction that would warrant treating these provisions differently from Section 3 of DOMA.”

Holder said DOJ would no longer defend the provisions in Title 38 which prevent same-sex couples who are legally married from obtaining benefits. He said that Congress would be provided a “full and fair opportunity” to defend the statues in the McLaughlin v. Panetta case if they wished to do so.

Read the full letter HERE.

Chris Geidner at MetroWeekly adds: "The move by Attorney General Eric Holder comes in the context of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network's lawsuit in McLaughlin v. Panetta. Metro Weekly reported on Thursday, Feb. 16, that the parties to the case had agreed a day earlier to a 60-day delay in the government's deadline for filing a response to the lawsuit."

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis released a statement in response to Holder's letter:

"We are pleased that the Attorney General has decided not to defend the constitutionality of DOMA in the military context, just as he has declined to defend it in other contexts.  We are also delighted that, for the first time, he has said that separate definitions that apply to military veterans are also unconstitutional.  This is an important step for the McLaughlin plaintiffs."

Chris Johnson at the Blade has some info on how this might affect other lawsuits:

Holder’s decision is likely to have a bearing on another lawsuit challenging Title 38 and DOMA,  Cooper Harris v. United States. The lawsuit was filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center earlier this month on behalf of Tracey Cooper-Harris, an Iraq and Afghanistan veteran who’s seeking disability benefits for her spouse.

Christine Sun, SPLC’s deputy legal director, said she believes the Holder letter applies to her organization’s lawsuit in addition to the SLDN litigation.

“There’s absolutely no reason why it wouldn’t apply to our case,” Sun said. “I believe that it was sent in connection to the McLaughlin case because there was the recent stipulation between SLDN and DOJ to extend the deadline for the government to respond to SLDN’s summary judgment case, but we’re certainly interpreting the letter to say that the Department of Justice won’t be defending Title 38 in our case either.”


  1. Michael Bedwell says

    Alas, Obama Fan Boy Geidner fails to note that more benefits for gay military couples could be had TODAY—rather than having to wait for cases to plod through the courts—if the President/Commander-in-Chief would stop ignoring requests that he order the Pentagon to extend ALL miliary partner benefits NOT explicitly banned because of DOMA such as access to military family housing, as well as equal protections for individual LGB service members against harassment and discrimination—both of which they have conceded they could easily and legally do with no action by Congress required.

    And, so soon people forget about the legal arguments made and historical examples given a couple of years for Obama to start refusing to enforce DOMA itself given he finally decided it was unconstitutional.

    Where’s the BEEF, Barry?

  2. Max says

    This is BS because the next (Republican) administration will just start defending them again. The Obama administration is soft, weak, and spineless. Our battles will continue to be at the state level and in the courts.

  3. Bill Perdue says

    Another straw for Obots to grasp as they desperately look for a reason, any reason, to do what they wanted to to all along, which is vote for a bigot named Obama.

    The announcement is minor, but good and very much too little and too late. I think no self respecting person should be part of the US military murder machine.

    What’s not good are mindless, submissive Obots who support Obama’s disgusting stand on marriage equality, his union busting, the torture of Brad Manning, putting Medicare and Social Security ‘on the table’ for the Republicans to shred, the NDAA and his war in Afghanistan.

    Only idiots forget that Obama’s broken nearly every major promose he made.

  4. Artie says

    @ Bill Perdue,

    A comment on “Pam’s House Blend” from 2009:

    [“Two names?…one shameful agenda….I don’t know if “donal1944″ is also “Bill Perdue” but this post is identical to one Perdue has posted on other sites to shamelessly exploit August Provost’s murder. Mr. Perdue always has a sticky purse full of factual distortions to try to justify his REAL mission which has NOTHING repeat NOTHING to do with gay rights but trying to convince the gullible to dump the Dems and Repugs and every other party except “Labor””]

    So, Perdue, you think you live in a country with a multi-party system at the national level, like Italy? This is your Italian Phantasy Syndrome, and you should get over it before people start questioning your judgment. Since the modern two-party system was established in 1864, third parties have scored zero at the national level. You’re a troll, Perdue. Look for greener pastures.

  5. Artie says

    @ Bedwell,

    Geidner is simply reporting on a news item. His duty as a journalist does not include being your personal mouthpiece. Go back to journalism school, Bedwell.

  6. Max says

    Artie, you deliberately misunderstood my comment in order to fly off topic and attack.

    My point is that the next time we have a Republican administration – whenever that may be – they will simply reverse course because Obama/Holder’s meaningless gesture carries no lasting legal weight. It is temporary. Do you understand that?

    Next time think about what you read before launching into orbit.

  7. Artie says

    @ Max,

    I didn’t misunderstand your comment deliberately. I made a reasonable conclusion based on you calling a presidential executive order BS and calling the Obama administration “soft, weak, and spineless.” I also based my conclusion on your many posts stating that Obama should not be reelected. OK, you enclosed the word “Republicans” in parentheses. Fine.

    There is plenty of historical evidence that demonstrates how presidential executive orders are precursors to permanent laws: FDR’s federal non-discrimination order (aimed at racial discrimination) and Bill Clinton’s federal non-discrimination order (aimed at LGBT equality for government employees). These are just two major examples of executive orders that had a huge influence on later laws. And you call that BS? I don’t need to think more carefully about your messages in parentheses. You, Max, you’re the one who needs to think before you call a federal executive order BS.

  8. Bill Perdue says

    Artie, aka Roy Cohn, doesn’t have the brains to defend his support for Obama’s bigotry, racism and war mongering.

    So he quotes other Obots and Clintonistas. Democrats are Republicans in drag, which is to say, right wing and worthless.

    Get some brains, then get back to us “Artie”.

  9. Artie says

    @ Bill Perdue,

    Have fun voting in Italy. You might find your third- or fourth-party presidential candidate on the ballot over in Italy. Whenever you want to come back down to earth with the rest of us, you’ll notice that you live in the U.S., which has had a two-party system since 1864. How completely brainless can you be to ignore that? The only other possibility is that you’re just a troll who thinks he can trick those “stupid queers” into wasting their votes on a third-party candidate with 0% chance of winning. So you’re either brainless or self-hating. Or maybe both. You get some brains, “Perdue,” and then get back to us.

  10. Artie says

    @ Bill Perdue,

    Obama’s “racism”? That’s an interesting one. Mind explaining? And how about war mongering? Would that be ending George W. Bush’s Iraq war and not starting the war with Iran that the Republican candidates want to start? And all that third-party cheerleading? You’re telling us that you’re honestly backing a third-party candidate? I think you’re lying. I think you want Romney to give “all those queers” a hard time. Self-hate much?

  11. Max says

    Artie, pay attention.

    “You seem pretty sure of the 2012 Republican presidential ticket.”

    – I said nothing about 2012.

    “Maybe you shouldn’t count your chickens quite yet.”

    – Chickens?

    “Here’s a little love letter from your hero, Mitt Romney…”

    – Love Letter? Mitt Romney? Where was any of that in my comment?

    Your semi-coherent Internet babble was the exact opposite of a “reasonable conclusion.”

  12. Artie says

    @ Max, you pay attention,

    Reread the first paragraph of my last comment for your answers about my conclusion. And try to address the actual substance of my criticism, which is in the second paragraph of my last comment. Instead of addressing the substance, you ran away from it. Are you afraid to actually defend the statements in your original comment?

  13. Artie says

    @ Max,

    You have made a long-time habit of posting the same *implied* main idea: You think everyone should want Obama’s Republican opponent to defeat him this fall. Yes, Max, we’re all bright enough here to understand a main idea that is implied rather stated. That’s basic reading comprehension. You’ve repeated that implied main idea throughout a L-O-N-G history of comments on this blog.

    Just because you want to see Obama defeated, that doesn’t mean that your criticisms today about an executive order are valid. Try to defend those criticisms by answering the specific objections I made in the comment above. That’s the only way people are going to take you seriously.

  14. Max says

    Artie, take a writing class, please. You’re making me dizzy.

    My point is that Team Obama’s decisions can be just as easily reversed by the next administration as they were declared. Thus, they don’t really help us for more than, quite possibly, one year.

    That’s all. No chickens, Romney love letters, FDR, or Bill Clinton… You inferred all that nonsense on your own.

  15. Bill Perdue says

    Poor, poor, brain dead ‘Artie’, with all his deficits it’s understandable why he’d want to be anonymous.

    Poor, stupid Artie thinks change comes from elections. It doesn’t. The two party system became fixed by the Great Betrayal, the Compromise of 1877. Since then we’ve seen an endless parade of political prostitutes and ‘lesser’ evils like Obama. They occasionally react to mass action by mass movement, which is the real agent or change but that’s as far as it goes.

    Artie, never on one to actually read, wants to know why Obama is a racist and a warmonger. As if he hadn’t heard of Obama’s racist wars against the Arab/muslim world that claimed thousands of civilian causalities. It our poor ‘Artie’ had followed the debate on Obama’s insurance reform plan he’d have noticed that Obama explicitly denied health care coverage for imported and immigrant workers. Gotta learn the hard way, doncha ‘Artie”. Reading Is Fundamental.

    Obama didn’t end the war in Iraq, it ended when the terms of the Status of Forces Agreement came into effect and the Iraqis refused to let criminal US military murderers off the hook. Obama had nothing to do with it but he has everything to do with the escalation in Afghanistan.

    Artie Wants to vote for a bigot as long as it’s a Dimocrat. Obama led the charge against marriage equality in California in 2008 with his bigoted war cry ‘Gawd’s in the mix.” The right wing trumpeted his bigotry in thousands of ads and galvanized the bigot vote. ‘Artie’ likes Obama because he’s a pigheaded bigot who refuses to pass ENDA or repeal Bill Clintons DOMA ‘Artie’ will pretend that Obama is powerless and that ENDA and DOME were just ‘overlooked’ when the Dims controlled both houses and the WH.

    ‘Artie’ can’t tell the truth because he’s unaware of even recent history. He’s an Obot and a Dimbulb, a particularly clueless Dimocrat.

  16. Artie says

    @ Bill Perdue,

    Do you really think you’re tricking all those gay voters (including yourself) into not voting or voting for a 0%-chance third-party candidate? You need to find greener pastures elsewhere.

  17. Artie says

    @ Bill Perdue,

    Sifting through your paragraphs of insults, I came up with a couple gems:

    “‘Artie’ likes Obama because he’s a pigheaded bigot who refuses to pass ENDA or repeal Bill Clintons DOMA”

    I think it would be Congress that passes and repeals laws, not the president. Duh. The president can fight DOMA in court through the Department of Justice, which is what Obama is doing. And you call other people brain-dead? It’s obvious from your second paragraph that you think gay people shouldn’t vote. You need to either give up that campaign or take it to another blog.

  18. Artie says

    @ Bill Perdue,

    You wrote: “Poor, stupid Artie thinks change comes from elections. It doesn’t.”

    You’re going on a gay blog and telling people that it won’t really matter if they vote or not. Isn’t it time for you to move on to another corner of the Internet?

  19. Artie says

    @ “Bill Perdue,”

    See? Anyone can use your sarcastic quotation marks, “Perdue.” Don’t go around telling the other readers on this board that they may as well not vote. You’ll have everyone asking you to leave. And you’ll have everyone telling you that your’re soooooo stupid.

  20. Bill Perdue says

    So far it’s just you, Roy Cohn, Jr., aka “stupid Artie”.

    Don’t be a bootlick for the >01% parties like “stupid Artie”. On November 6th vote left, write in gay/antiwar hero Brad Manning or just sit it our because elections don’t creat change, mass actions do.

  21. Artie says

    The 2009 post on Pam’s House Blend said it best:

    “Mr. Perdue always has a sticky purse full of factual distortions to try to justify his REAL mission which has NOTHING repeat NOTHING to do with gay rights but trying to convince the gullible to dump the Dems and Repugs and every other party except ‘Labor'”

    But now Perdue thinks all the gay voters are stupid enough to take his advice and write in Brad Manning or just sit it out. What kind of blithering idiot would tell gay voters to “vote left” by casting a write-in vote for Brad Manning? Only Bill “sticky purse” Perdue.

  22. Bill Perdue says

    What our little ‘Artie’ really likes about Obama is his racism, his union busting and his anti-gay bigotry. Artie’ the troll isn’t a factor in these discussions because he’s afraid to admit that, so he’s reduced to channeling Roy Cohn and regurgitating the lies of another troll.

    Poor, poor Artie.

    Don’t be a bootlick for eihter of the .01% parties like “stupid Artie”. On November 6th vote left, write in gay/antiwar hero Brad Manning or just sit it out because elections don’t create change, mass actions do.

    Nobama, Noromney.

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