Barack Obama | DOMA | Gay Marriage | News | Supreme Court

President Obama To Supreme Court: 'DOMA Is Unconstitutional'

President Obama's administration filed an historic legal brief late Friday that declares his belief to the US Supreme Court that DOMA is unconstitutional. The dossier was written by Solicitor General Donald Verrilli.

According to NBC News:

6a00d8341c730253ef017c36ff5763970b-200wiThe Obama administration urged the Supreme Court on Friday to throw out a section of a 1996 federal law that prohibits recognition of same-sex marriage. 

The brief was filed Friday in United States v. Windsor, a case challenging Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, the law that legally declares marriage to be only between a man and a woman. That section allows state and federal authorities to deny benefits to same-sex couples that are commonplace for heterosexual couples, like insurance for government workers and Social Security survivors' benefits.

This marks the first time a president has endorsed same-sex marriage rights in the nation's highest court. 

The brief reads in part: "Moral opposition to homosexuality, though it may reflect deeply held personal views, is not a legitimate policy objective that can justify unequal treatment of gay and lesbian people."

Read the entire document here

Feed This post's comment feed


  1. Hell yeah! So happy to see this. Thanks Mr.President!

    Posted by: idafunkit | Feb 23, 2013 4:00:36 AM

  2. Another reason I wanted him to have a second term. Romney would've been a huge step backwards for gay rights.

    Posted by: sparks | Feb 23, 2013 4:05:34 AM

  3. So glad that he won. Cannot imagine what Romney would have tried to do with with cohorts in Congress.

    This has obviously become one of his legacy efforts.

    Posted by: Paul R | Feb 23, 2013 4:10:31 AM

  4. I'm pleased to see that this brief is a strong push for heightened scrutiny, with a fallback position of "rational basis plus". It's remarkable to see the country's executive branch write these words.

    I'm a bit disappointed they are not willing to contest DOMA Section 3 on rational basis grounds, as there is clearly no rational basis.

    I do hope to see the administration file an amicus brief in the Prop 8 case (a case they did reference in a footnote here), perhaps also pushing for heightened scrutiny there, as the cases are in large part the same -- either sexual orientation discrimination in marriage is OK, or it isn't.

    Posted by: Randy | Feb 23, 2013 5:20:29 AM

  5. I cannot even think of the dismay if Romney had been elected. This President is determined to move the USA forward on all levels........and (speaking as a half foreigner) it is just wonderful to see.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Feb 23, 2013 6:08:26 AM

  6. "An historic"? Shouldn't it be "a historic"?

    Posted by: TheSeer | Feb 23, 2013 7:02:02 AM

  7. Elections matter. Not that we do not have further to go, but could we for a moment be happy with how far we have come?

    Posted by: SC David | Feb 23, 2013 7:16:19 AM

  8. Theseer:
    Because it is a French word. "h" is silent. Therefore "i" takes over.

    Posted by: simon | Feb 23, 2013 7:22:47 AM

  9. @theseer: "an historic" is correct. Although grammarians now reluctantly accept the alternative, traditionally if it's preceding a word starting with h, the correct usage is an, not a. It's really sad that they don't teach this any more.

    Posted by: Wisebear | Feb 23, 2013 7:26:01 AM

  10. It makes Boner look bad. Even worse if his party loses the court case.

    Posted by: simon | Feb 23, 2013 7:31:24 AM

  11. Wheres the face book share..??

    Posted by: steve | Feb 23, 2013 8:23:20 AM

  12. Can someone tell me? If DOMA is found unconstitutional, and there is federal recognition of same sex marriages, would someone in a state like North Carolina be able to go to Massachusetts, marry, and return as a couple to North Carolina and get all the rights of a married couple? How will states that have bans against same sex marriage be affected?

    Posted by: candideinnc | Feb 23, 2013 8:24:09 AM

  13. I think "a historical" and "an historical" r both correct, all having to do with how one pronounces the H.... maybe this is even an british/american difference?

    Posted by: V-8 | Feb 23, 2013 8:28:49 AM

  14. The brief reads in part: "Moral opposition to homosexuality, though it may reflect deeply held personal views, is not a legitimate policy objective that can justify unequal treatment of gay and lesbian people."

    Did Obama include this specifically for Scalia?

    Posted by: RONTEX | Feb 23, 2013 8:35:58 AM

  15. Sorry for going off topic. English is not my first language and all my English teachers taught me that I should use "an" only if "h" is silent, like "an hour", "an heir", "an honest man"... And therefore "a historian", "a hotel"... So I have asked Google and realized that this was not settled issue. There are two schools of taught. The first is that of my teachers (it matters only wether "h" is silent or not) where in the second one you use "an" in front of silent "h" OR if the first syllable is unstressed. Therefore "an historian", "an hotel"... "An herb" is wrong in both schools.

    Posted by: TheSeer | Feb 23, 2013 8:45:58 AM


    Great question. But what you are actually asking is a question on the recognition of foreign marriages.....or the "full faith and credit" doctrine.
    Of course the USA should recognise valid foreign marriages if such marriages are valid in the place of performance of such marriages.( gay or straight)
    The USA has been refusing to do so based on DOMA and public policy.
    Even though foreign European countries recognise gay marriages which were performed in Mass.
    It make my blood boil !!!!!

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Feb 23, 2013 8:46:21 AM

  17. Scalia, the lone, smartass Sicillian moral mobster on the Supreme Court, has indeed been directly addressed by Obama.

    Posted by: UFFDA | Feb 23, 2013 8:49:40 AM

  18. Jack--Not exactly what I was asking. DOMA, as I understand it, says that a same sex marriage in one state need not be recognized by the other states. This is unlike other legal contracts, where one state must recognize legal contracts made in other states. It also says that the federal government must not provide federal benefits to same sex couples. If the one section of DOMA is overturned, I think what that means is that the Federal government must recognize the legality of a state's same sex marriage contracts. So what is to prevent me, in North Carolina, from going to Massachusetts and marrying, then returning to NC and demanding federal marriage benefits? What effect do the state prohibitions have in that case?

    Posted by: candideinnc | Feb 23, 2013 9:02:27 AM

  19. @ Rontex

    It depends on whether the h is aspirated or not. If DOMA is struck down, a homosexual will experience an historical change is civil right. An hotel would always be wrong as the h is always aspirated (never pronounce otel). If you pronounce herb as erb then an is the correct article. No one said English was easy. As for words like honour, hysterical, history - most grammars still give an as the preferred preceding article though some recognize a as an acceptable alternative.

    Back on topic...

    Congratulations to the President for doing the right thing! I don't really think he is doing it just for his legacy - but I don't care either. He is doing to the right thing for us - yay!

    Posted by: MikeBoston | Feb 23, 2013 9:07:56 AM

  20. At last, a president for all of us.

    Posted by: jleo71 | Feb 23, 2013 9:16:58 AM

  21. And the gay repugs will come on and say he's just using us and doing this for political reasons in 3, 2, 1...

    Posted by: NY2.0 | Feb 23, 2013 9:36:54 AM

  22. @candideinnc - you would be able to to go a state where gay marriage is legal and return to your own state and still get federal marriage benefits. However, DOMA Section 2, which is not part of these cases, allows your home state to prevent you from enjoying the benefits of state-level marriage -- things like inheritance under a will or join ownership of property called "tenancy by the entireties" which is only available to married couples. In other words, while this case would be a BIG step forward, we still have DOMA section 2 to deal with.

    Posted by: joe | Feb 23, 2013 9:45:32 AM

  23. This is what presidential leadership on LGBT issues (and basic national civil equality) looks like.

    It makes for a very sharp contrast between President Obama and every previous holder of the office.

    I, for one, will never forget who had our back in the months leading up to the Supreme Court's ruling.

    Posted by: ryannson | Feb 23, 2013 9:46:25 AM

  24. Joe--Thanks. That is helpful. In my will here in NC, I have passed property to my partner. Our house is passed through "joint tenancy with rights of survivorship." My retirement accounts are all TOD--Transfer on Death. Do you know if those precautions sound like they are sufficient to help avoid state failure to recognize same sex marriages, or are there other state laws you are familiar with that are going to cause headaches for my partner?

    Posted by: candideinnc | Feb 23, 2013 9:52:04 AM

  25. DOMA is clearly unconstitutional and Scalia is on record for saying that Lawrence meant the USSC would necessarily have to find for same sex marriage.

    I don't like Scalia, but honestly it's his presentation that I can't get past. He comes off as too common and street to be a Supreme Court Justice... but he is a sharp intellect. Moreover, as I often have to remind conservatives who are continually disappointed by Republican appointees: all Supreme Court justices want to be remembered as a great legal mind. You simply can't do that if you aren't willing to apply the Constitution to new situations and find for the principle rather than the letter.

    No, of course the Founding Fathers never intended for the government to approve of gay marriages. Just as the First Amendment was in reality a protection to be any kind of Christian you wanted to be. However, the principles support a broader application. The judges who expand equal treatment under law will always be remembered over those who did nothing.

    Scalia will either recuse in deference to the Vatican, or he will find for same-sex marriage to be a great legal mind. I predict the latter.

    Posted by: David Hearne | Feb 23, 2013 10:39:21 AM

Post a comment


« «Towleroad Talking Points: Oscar Forecasting« «