White House Urges Court To Strike Key DOMA Provision

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Feb. 23 2013 7:00 AM

Is DOMA Legal Brief a Sign that White House Will Join Supreme Court Fight for Gay Marriage?

The Obama administration has to decide by next week whether to join the legal fight against California's voter-approved ban on marriage equality

Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

The Obama administration told the Supreme Court it was time to declare unconstitutional a ban on federal government benefits outlined in the Defense of Marriage Act. U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli’s brief argues that the 1996 law allows state and federal authorities to discriminate against same-sex couples by denying them benefits common to heterosexual couples, explains NBC News.

It’s hardly surprising that the administration wants the justices to uphold a U.S. federal appeals court ruling that declared DOMA unconstitutional. The White House had already made its position clear on the law. But the brief filed Friday marked the first time a president has endorsed the rights of same-sex couples in the Supreme Court. And some are seeing it as a strong sign that the White House will join the fight to declare California’s ban on gay marriage—Proposition 8—unconstitutional next week, points out Politico. The Obama administration allegedly still hasn’t made a final decision on whether to file a brief in that case.

The references in the administration’s brief to California’s Proposition 8 “were subtle and fleeting, but they immediately raised the question of whether the administration was getting into position to come out directly, next week, against that voter-approved ballot measure,” points out SCOTUS Blog.


The lawyers representing the two same-sex couples challenging Proposition 8 have said they still don’t know whether the administration would join their fight. “But those attorneys, and their clients—and, indeed, advocates of same-sex marriage across the country — could well have seen at least some positive signs in the administration brief … even though Proposition 8 is not in play directly in that case,” writes Lyle Denniston in Scotus Blog.

The brief notes that “gay and lesbian people have been subject to a significant history of discrimination in this country,” and adds that simple moral objection to homosexuality is not a valid reason to discriminate. "Moral opposition to homosexuality, though it may reflect deeply held personal views, is not a legitimate policy objective that can justify unequal treatment of gay and lesbian people.”

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.



Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?


Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

One of Putin’s Favorite Oligarchs Wants to Start an Orthodox Christian Fox News

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

Trending News Channel
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 20 2014 1:50 PM Why We Shouldn’t Be Too Sure About the Supposed Deal to Return the Abducted Nigerian Schoolgirls
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
Dear Prudence
Oct. 20 2014 3:12 PM Terror Next Door Prudie advises a letter writer whose husband is dangerously, violently obsessed with the neighbors.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 1:10 PM Women Are Still Losing Jobs for Getting Pregnant
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
Future Tense
Oct. 20 2014 4:59 PM Canadian Town Cancels Outdoor Halloween Because Polar Bears
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.