Attorney General Eric Holder has announced that, the President having concluded that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, the Department of Justice will no longer defend Section 3 in court.
DOMA has two main parts: Section 2, which nullifies the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution with regard to same-sex marriage, meaning no state is obligated to recognize any same-sex marriage that takes place in another state, and Section 3, which nullifies all same-sex marriages with regard to federal law. It’s the latter, and the latter only, which the DOJ now acknowledges to be unconstitutional. The administration will, of course, continue to enforce Section 3.
Holder’s statement included a pro forma declaration that Obama “opposes” DOMA, though of course he has never done any such thing. He has repeatedly stated his opposition to same-sex marriage, and until today has vigorously defended DOMA in court. While saying it “should be repealed,” he has never made the slightest move to encourage Congress to repeal it. On the contrary, his administration has made it abundantly clear that he has no wish to see it repealed anytime soon. Despite Obama’s lip service to equality, he has supported DOMA until today and continues to support it, having belatedly decided — now that there is no possibility of Congressional repeal during the remainder of his term — to mitigate his support somewhat.
Excuse me if I don’t share the gushing enthusiasm of many in the LGBT community.
Anything less than full equality under the law is still unacceptable. Justice delayed is still justice denied. If and when Obama finally understands that, and acts on it, he will become the fierce advocate he promised to be.