U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told Congress yesterday the Obama administration would no longer support the constitutionality of certain provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act, reversing its previous stance on same-sex marriage.
Since DOMA was first signed into law in 1996 by then-President Bill Clinton, the federal government has defined marriage as a union between a man and woman. However, Obama deemed the law unconstitutional yesterday and directed Holder to not defend it in any court case.
According to Press Secretary Jay Carney, it is still important to understand that enforcement of the Defense of Marriage Act will continue to be raised in court.
“Let me also make clear, however, that the United States government will still be a party to those cases in order to allow those cases to proceed so that the courts can make the final determination about its constitutionality, and also, so that other interested parties are able to take up the defense of the Defense of Marriage Act if they so wish — and in particular, Congress or members of Congress who want to proceed and defend the law in these cases,” Carney said in a published press briefing yesterday.
Obama stated in 2008 that marriage is between a man and woman, but has reported a struggle with his stance on the topic in recent years. The president’s personal politics aside, Holder said, Obama was required to make a decision about DOMA by court order.
“The Second Circuit … required a decision by the administration about whether or not this case should require heightened scrutiny, a heightened constitutional review … because this, unlike the other cases in other circuits, has no precedent, no foundation upon which the administration could defend the Defense of Marriage Act, in this case,” Carney said in the press briefing. “Therefore it had to basically make a positive assertion about its constitutionality.”