President Obama Declares Section Three of The Defense of Marriage Act Unconstitutional; Meanwhile, in California, Prop. 8 Plaintiffs Petition U.S. Court of Appeals to Lift Stay on Same Sex Marriages
Section 3 is the portion of DOMA that limits federal marriage benefits to opposite-sex married couples. There are over 1,000 such benefits at the federal level, from social security to tons of other health care benefits, tax benefits, and more.
Section 3. Definition of ‘marriage’ and ‘spouse’:
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.
The other portion of DOMA deals with ensuring that one state isn’t forced to recognize another state’s marriage of a gay couple – today’s decision by the President doesn’t affect that, but I’m not sure the issue is even ripe yet.
I’m sure that the administration’s throwing in the towel will be the beginning of a lot of dominoes falling. If anything, the DoJ had better make it plain that such laws are indefensible everywhere and in every state. Don’t leave the haters any loopholes, Obama. What is sad is that it took this long for Obama to realize that it was insupportable, just like cooler, but more liberal–and gay–minds had told him and Justice.
Today, the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) and its legal team — led by Theodore B. Olson and David Boies — filed a motion with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit asking that the Court immediately lift an order preventing gay and lesbian couples from marrying in California. That order, issued in August 2010, stayed the injunction issued by the U.S. District Court that barred further enforcement of Proposition 8.
This comes on the heels of a request last Thursday by AFER to the California Supreme Court to expedite the hearing of questions relating to the standing of Proponents to maintain an appeal in federal court. AFER’s attorneys urged the California Supreme Court to hear arguments in May, rather than September.
“We are respectfully asking the Court to lift its stay on marriage for gay and lesbian couples because it has become apparent that the legal process is taking considerably longer than could reasonably have been anticipated,” said Theodore B. Olson, co-lead counsel for AFER. “It’s important to remember that the stay was originally ordered with the understanding that the Ninth Circuit would rule swiftly on the case before it. Now that the issue of the Proponents’ standing to appeal has been referred for analysis by the California Supreme Court, substantial additional, indefinite and unanticipated delays lie ahead. It’s unreasonable and decidedly unjust to expect California’s gay and lesbian couples to put their lives on hold and suffer daily discrimination as second class citizens while their U.S. District Court victory is debated further.”
In August 2010, the U.S. District Court declared Proposition 8 — which eliminated marriage rights for same-sex couples — unconstitutional and “gravely harmful” and ordered the State to cease all enforcement of it. The Ninth Circuit, however, has stayed that injunction for the duration of the appeal before that Court, depriving tens of thousands of gay and lesbian Californians of their fundamental constitutional right to marry.
I wonder how much of an influence the Obama Administration’s announcement (which came around noon) will have on this petition. I don’t doubt that it will be big, but how big remains to be seen. Nevertheless, this is all good news for those of us who support marriage equality in the United States.