On Wednesday, President Obama instructed the U.S. Department of Justice to refrain from defending the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriage. In a February 23rd statement, the Department of Justice issued a statement indicating that President Obama and Attorney General Holder see Section 3 of DOMA as unconstitutional. The statement reminds Americans that although the Obama administration will not defend DOMA's constitutionality in court, DOMA will remain in effect until Congress repeals it or a judicial finding strikes it down. In an open statement to Speaker John Boehner, Attorney General Holder explained the reasoning behind this decision. California Senator Diane Feinstein has announced that she will put forth legislation to repeal DOMA, according to the Advocate.
Predictably, members of the Religious Right are unhappy. Right Wing Watch has documented various Religious Right responses to the DOMA decision, including those of Family Research Council, American Family Association, National Organization for Marriage, Focus on the Family, and more. Right-wing news website World Net Daily posted an article featuring angry quotes from Alliance Defense Fund, Massachusetts Family Institute, Foundation for Moral Law, and other conservative groups. Many other right-wing voices are weighing in, apoplectic over President Obama's decision.
- Some conservative Christian news websites have posed articles expressing disapproval of Obama's DOMA decision. For example, an article at Charisma calls the move a threat to traditional marriage.
- Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum accused President Obama of eroding traditions that have supposedly made America great, according to Talking Points Memo.
- On The 700 Club, Pat Robertson defended DOMA as the "law of the land" and accused President Obama of being "out of touch" with America. Robertson accused "radical gay groups" of being willing to tear down any institution for the sake of their wishes. (Hat tip to Good As You.)
- In a recent press statement, Concerned Women for America CEO Penny Nance called President Obama's decision "tyrannical." Nance accused Obama of "insulting" the supposed "majority" of Americans who oppose same-sex marriage, as well as "circumventing" the law to suit his personal preferences. (See www[dot]cwfa[dot]org/content.asp?id=19953)
- At the Heritage Foundation blog, Chuck Donovan waxes poetic about the traditional family as a "cornerstone" of society, claiming that Holder's statement disavows and ignores "procreational responsibility" in families. Lamenting the Obama administration's approach to the legislation, Donovan correlates acceptance of same-sex marriage with "broken families," attributing all sorts of social pathologies to "family dissolution." Oddly, he failed to demonstrate how acceptance of same-sex marriage would actually bring about any of these problems. (See blog[dot]heritage[dot]org/2011/02/23/time-for-a-real-defense-of-doma/)
- On the February 23rd edition of Hardball with Chris Matthews, Pat Buchanan claimed that President Obama "capitulated" to LGBT rights supporters among his base. Buchanan accused Obama of being a "weak" president for allegedly failing to respond to fiscal problems and the unrest in Libya.
- On Fox News' America Live, radio talk show host Monica Crowley called the president "Mubarak Obama" and accused him of indulging in a "form of dictatorship" over his DOMA decision. Crowley accused Obama of refusing to enforce a law that he simply didn't like.
- Also on Fox News' America Live, National Organization for Marriage chairwoman Maggie Gallagher criticized Obama for "refusing to defend the law." Gallagher anticipates that the House may intervene in DOMA and vows that the "fight has just begun." NOM president Brian Brown expressed similar disapproval on ABC's Top Line.
As much as Religious Right and right-wing voices complain, it is clear that LGBT rights are making substantial strides. Although DOMA is still on the books, the Obama administration's decision not to defend it is a positive development. For the sake of LGBT rights in this country, I hope that DOMA is struck down as unconstitutional.
For additional commentary, visit the following links.
Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters: Mike Huckabee Uses DOMA Decision to Show Contempt for the LGBT Community
Gaytheist Agenda: Bryan Fischer: Nothing in the Constitution Says We Can't Hate the Homos
People for the American Way: PFAW Commends President Obama’s Stand Against Unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act
ABC: Equality Matters: Obama's Move on DOMA "Gutsy"
365 Gay: The GOP's Sanctimonious Defense of the Sanctity of DOMA
Salon: Does Obama Really Mean It on DOMA?