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White House Won’t Defend Defense of Marriage Act

by Keith Koffler on February 23, 2011, 2:20 pm

The Obama administration will no longer defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, Attorney General Eric Holder announced today.

Holder said he and President Obama had decided the law does unconstitutional and does not merit a legal defense. The decision by the president not to defend a statute passed by Congress is sure to create concern about unilateral action by an administration to abandon a statute duly passed by Congress.

One prominent attorney today questioned whether the move wasn’t an attack on the rule of law.

The Volokh Conspiracy, a legal blog, wondered if a future president might refuse to defend the individual mandate in the health reform law, leading to its invalidation.

But others say the move not to defend a law is not extraordinary.

The Defense of Marriage Act, passed in 1996, defines marriage as between a man and a woman and prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriages. Obama himself  has expressed opposition to the statute but felt obligated to defense its constitutionality.

The administration will continue to enforce the law until a court delivers a “definitive verdict against the law’s constitutionality,” Holder said.

But it’s not clear who will defend the law from challenges if the Justice Department is on the sidelines, though there have been suggestions that Congress could do it.

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Star February 23, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Ah, lord, now what?

Tom February 23, 2011 at 3:30 pm

When I just read it on Drudge, and then surfed into WHD, I could not beleive it. I simply could not beleive it.

MEMO TO STR8′s: It is time you stand up, pick up a sign, an American flag and march on Washington. If the gays can marshall 500,000 in D.C., straight couples and supporters can join in. I will personally take time off to march in such a parade and I will cary a sign that says: GAY MAN FOR TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE.

(I’ll loose my gay card but whatever)

Star February 23, 2011 at 2:22 pm

As Dorothy Parker said–”What fresh hell is this?”

srdem65 February 23, 2011 at 2:42 pm

The POTUS doesn’t have the authority or mandate to decide what’s constitutional and what isn’t. This move is almost unbelievable, that he would decide not to defend an existing law for whatever reason.
Congress and the SupremeCourt must do something to reign in this kind of unlawful behavior. Now.

Star February 23, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Well, forget my buying health insurance…can’t make me, neener neener.

Tom February 23, 2011 at 3:29 pm


If he is not willing to uphold our law (signed by President Clinton), that is a high crime and misdemeanor.