Obama Administration Calls on Supreme Court to Overturn Federal DOMA

Pete Winn | February 26, 2013 | 8:17pm EST
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President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder. (AP photo)

(CNSNews.com) - The Obama administration has come down firmly on the side of homosexual activists, urging the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) -- and its definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

On Friday, U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli formally filed a legal brief with the Supreme Court, calling the law unconstitutional and “discriminatory against gays and lesbians.”

“It is abundantly clear that this discrimination does not substantially advance (the government’s) interest in protecting marriage, or any other important interest,” Verrilli wrote in the 67-page document.

“The Statute simply cannot be reconciled with the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection,” he said.

Conservative legal experts like Mathew Staver, president of Liberty Counsel, say the government’s position is “outrageous.”

“For President Obama to put the weight of the federal government behind the idea that marriage as the union of one man and one woman is unconstitutional, is outrageous,” Staver told CNSNews.com.

“It’s dangerous and will ultimately undermine society,” he added.

The Government Case Against DOMA

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case challenging DOMA on March 27.

The 1996 law, which passed Congress with overwhelming support and was signed into law by President Clinton, says no state can be forced under the Constitution to accept same-sex marriage simply because another state may recognize it.

But Section 3 of DOMA, however, goes further and defines marriage, for federal purposes, as the union of one man and one woman.

Specifically, the law states: “In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.”

In the case before the Supreme Court, the United States vs. Windsor, a New York woman filed suit against Section 3 of DOMA after the IRS demanded she pay federal tax on the $600,000 inheritance she had received after the woman she had legally married under New York law died.

In his legal brief, Verrilli argued that Section 3 of DOMA “violates the fundamental constitutional guarantee of equal protection.”

The solicitor general wrote:”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” and declared flatly, “because this discrimination cannot be justified as substantially furthering any important governmental interest, Section 3 is unconstitutional.”

Obama and Holder vs. DOMA

Verrilli and the federal government are calling for the Supreme Court to invoke its tough “strict scrutiny” standard – or take a very hard line, in which the justices  treat homosexual behavior as a constitutional right like the right to vote.

He explained that the administration was coming down hard because President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder had decided the DOMA law had to go.

“The Attorney General explained that, after examining factors identified by this Court as relevant to the applicable level of scrutiny -- including the history of discrimination against gay and lesbian individuals and the irrelevance of sexual orientation to legitimate policy objectives -- the President and he had concluded that Section 3 warrants application of heightened scrutiny rather than rational-basis review,” the solicitor general wrote.

“The Attorney General further explained that the President and he had concluded that Section 3 fails that standard and is therefore unconstitutional,” Verrilli said.

But Staver said that Obama and Holder are trying to “de-construct,” “re-define” and “subvert” the law and marriage, as they have always been known.

“Marriage as the union of one man and one woman is the first foundation of a stable and healthy government,” Staver said.

“What this administration argues is that somehow the Constitution prevents the federal government – or for that matter any other government – from affirming the common-sense, long-understood definition of the union of one man and one woman as marriage,” Staver said.

“To argue that there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage – or put another way, that constitutionally, you can’t even affirm marriage as the union of one man and one woman -- is absolutely outrageous,” he added.

“The federal Defense of Marriage Act simply affirms the commonsense definition of natural marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Same-sex unions would establish an irresponsible and dangerous policy that children do not need moms and dads.”

Staver said Liberty Counsel has submitted its own brief asking the Supreme Court to dismiss United States v. Windsor.

“President Obama and his administration have been the most hostile in American history towards marriage and the family,” he said.

“Obama’s radical policies will undermine marriage and morality and ultimately will harm children and society. Obama’s advocacy of anti-family policies is shameful.”

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