Obama gets the message on gay marriage

Republican leaders in Congress are furious with President Obama over his decision to stop defending the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, angrily accusing the president of playing politics to satisfy an important Democratic constituency — gay rights activists. For once, I agree with the GOP: Obama is playing politics.

Here’s the rub: The Defense of Marriage Act was a blatantly political ploy when Republicans shoved it through Congress in 1996 — a shameless measure meant to whip up social conservatives during Clinton’s re-election campaign. The legislation also had the effect of forcing Clinton to take a position on the issue. After he had infuriated the military with his attempt to allow gays to serve openly, he didn’t dare veto it. He signed it into law. The national GOP put a plank endorsing DOMA into its platform.

The intervening years were filled with vicious gay-baiting, when Karl Rove and his conservative allies introduced anti-gay-marriage amendments to state constitutions around the country. Those amendments helped boost George W. Bush’s re-election in 2004 because they drove rightwingers to the polls.

Though Obama campaigned on broadening rights for gays and lesbians — he promised to abolish “don’t ask,” and he has — he has had a more complicated position on gay marriage. He said he supported civil unions, but he opposed marriage for same-sex couples.

As a constitutional lawyer, the president should have known better. As citizens, gays are entitled to the same rights that straight couples have, including the right to a civil marriage at a courthouse. (Under the First Amendment, churches can do what they please. They don’t have to perform gay wedding rites if they choose not to.)

Finally, Obama and his Justice Department have conceded that one portion of DOMA — Section Three — is blatantly unconstitutional. From the administration’s press release:

Much of the legal landscape has changed in the 15 years since Congress passed DOMA. The Supreme Court has ruled that laws criminalizing homosexual conduct are unconstitutional. Congress has repealed the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. Several lower courts have ruled DOMA itself to be unconstitutional. Section 3 of DOMA will continue to remain in effect unless Congress repeals it or there is a final judicial finding that strikes it down, and the President has informed me that the Executive Branch will continue to enforce the law. But while both the wisdom and the legality of Section 3 of DOMA will continue to be the subject of both extensive litigation and public debate, this Administration will no longer assert its constitutionality in court.

DOMA may still prevail under a Supreme Court that has moved steadily rightward in recent years. But it shouldn’t.

— Cynthia Tucker

485 comments Add your comment

God Bless America... and no one else

February 24th, 2011
7:31 am

A “wedding” is a religious rite, not a civil right. Gay legal unions? Go ahead, who cares.

Mitra

February 24th, 2011
7:37 am

Learn how to spell correctly before you try to preach about your bible thumping BS. One day, gays will be allowed to be married, all over, legally. Stay mad.

james

February 24th, 2011
7:45 am

I think he gets a number of items- unfortunately leadership is not one of them.

DebbieDoRight

February 24th, 2011
7:46 am

There is no gay america or straight america — it’s the United States of America. To paraphrase King It’s time America lived up to its creed and started treated every citizen equally.

DebbieDoRight

February 24th, 2011
7:47 am

umm “treating” :oops:

saravana

February 24th, 2011
7:48 am

ya correct 1 day gays will form a union for they right of marreges

God Bless America... and no one else

February 24th, 2011
7:50 am

Mitra, there were no misspelled words in my post. Also, I mentioned nothing about the Bible, I said religious rite. That rite is performed in Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Animist, and other societies. It is always between a woman and a man.

I’m not the one with anger here.

StJ

February 24th, 2011
7:51 am

I wonder what law the administration will selectively refuse to enforce next time. (Or what other “law” not passed by Congress will be enforced, for that matter.)

heartlandboy

February 24th, 2011
7:52 am

If the Repub leaders are furious…must be because the Koch Brothers pulled their strings and told them to be furious.

Herman Cain

February 24th, 2011
7:54 am

Who cares, obozo is still a little boy sitting at a man’s desk and the clock is ticking. 22 months until he packs his bags and returns to that armpit of a city where he belongs with his buddy raum.

heartlandboy

February 24th, 2011
7:57 am

@StJ:
What part of “the Executive Branch will continue to enforce the law” do you not understand?

abouttime

February 24th, 2011
7:57 am

Great news. DOMA is unconstitutional and should die.

Van Jones

February 24th, 2011
7:58 am

…”was a blatantly political ploy when Republicans shoved it through Congress…” Very delicate.

Peadawg

February 24th, 2011
8:00 am

”was a blatantly political ploy when Republicans shoved it through Congress…” – Sounds a lot like the health care bill…

Eric

February 24th, 2011
8:01 am

Wrong, Herman Stain. He’s not going anywhere. Get your dumbass ready for four more years.

Eric

February 24th, 2011
8:03 am

Wrong, Peabrain. Health care is about HEALTH CARE! The right thing to do always seems to escape you rightwingers.

The New Thomas Paine

February 24th, 2011
8:04 am

In a perfect world, the only unsolved and persistent issue confronting voters would be gay marriage. What a paradise we’d have built! All the other problems plaguing a different universe, like taxes, disease, war and conservatism (but then I repeat myself) would have been solved!

Yet 36 of our last 37 presidents have been elected because of the polarizing effect of gay marriage. The only president who was elected without confronting gay marriage was Aaron Burr. And he, like Cary Grant, wore woman’s panties, not because he was gay, but because of the comfort factor. It really does make some men feel good all under. So what? (Fun fact: Alexander Hamilton wore Hanes, and thought he was the Michael Jordan of dueling).

What is written about what happens in the Lincoln Bedroom should stay in the Rose Garden, (as fertilizer).

Can we solve some real issues? Can we give peace a chance? Can we legalize all drugs? Can we stop the conservative corruption of our children? Can we finally ban the Old Testament, and focus on the New? Remember, Christ said that the Jews had “gotten it all wrong”. He was quite clear on that one point. That’s why they strung him up. Try reading the gospels once in a while. Every time Christ opened his mouth the Jews tried to stone him to death. He was saying that the old testament was not just misunderstood, but that it led one down the wrong path. The way to heaven was only through….wait for it…….

HIM!!!!

Here’s Christ’s message in a tweet: “Pray4others. If Upray4yourself, U R praying 2+4 the devil”.

That’s not an easy message to absorb, now, is it? U can still save your souls. Put your hand on the screen U R now reading. Repeat after me, “I, (say your name), though I be unworthy pagan trash, give my life 2+4 Jesus Christ, and I will never pray 4myself ever again, but only pray4others….hell, I’ll even read the damn gospels once in a while.”

There. Your soul is saved.

ByteMe

February 24th, 2011
8:06 am

I wonder what law the administration will selectively refuse to enforce next time. (Or what other “law” not passed by Congress will be enforced, for that matter.)

You mean like the SEC not enforcing the leverage requirements for the big 6 investment firms? And when that happened you took what position?

Selective outrage is not pretty.

DebbieDoRight

February 24th, 2011
8:08 am

Thomas, perhaps you should try decaf in the mornings.

DebbieDoRight

February 24th, 2011
8:10 am

Who cares, obozo is still a little boy sitting at a man’s desk and the clock is ticking.

I was going to comment on your comment; however, I just don’t feel like talking to jack azzes this morning. Sorry. :sad:

Peadawg

February 24th, 2011
8:12 am

DebbieDoRight @ 8:10…yet you still commented on his comment anyways. LOL!!!

abouttime

February 24th, 2011
8:12 am

Read a really interesting article from the University of Chicago Law School about the administrations decision to stop defending this law. Wanted to post a little of the article:
The lynchpin of today’s announcement was the Justice Department’s conclusion that government discrimination against gays and lesbians requires heightened scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause. Courts grant a presumption of constitutionality to most laws and review them under only “rational basis” scrutiny. But the DOJ concluded that classifications based on sexual orientation are inherently suspect. Following established caselaw, the DOJ examined factors for heightened scrutiny and concluded that it should apply here, for four reasons: 1) there is “a significant history of purposeful discrimination against gay and lesbian people”; 2) “a growing scientific consensus accepts that sexual orientation is a characteristic that is immutable”; 3) gays and lesbians have “limited political power” to protect their interests through the majoritarian political process; and 4) “there is a growing acknowledgment that sexual orientation ‘bears no relation to ability to perform or contribute to society.’” This analysis potentially has implications not just for marriage, but for all government discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Under the Equal Protection Clause (whose principles apply to the federal government through the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause), laws are not constitutional or unconstitutional in some absolute sense. When a court applies heightened scrutiny, the government is required to advance “important” reasons for keeping the discrimination in place. If the court accepts the reasons, the law is constitutional; if the reasons are insubstantial, grounded in animus or stereotypes, or only weakly connected to some important government objective, the law fails

Good Grief

February 24th, 2011
8:13 am

“DOMA may still prevail under a Supreme Court that has moved steadily rightward in recent years.” I was under the impression that the SCOTUS was moving in a leftwardly direction, though for the most part plotting a center course.

The New Thomas Paine -
“The only president who was elected without confronting gay marriage was Aaron Burr.”
What? What?

granny godzilla

February 24th, 2011
8:13 am

Good going Mr President!

tm

February 24th, 2011
8:14 am

“The Defense of Marriage Act was a blatantly political ploy when Republicans shoved it through Congress in 1996″
-So I guess you will have no problem when the next Republican President and his/her justice department refuse to back the constutionality of health care bill. Playing the game this way is going to let future administration do the same thing to those laws you support.

heartlandboy

February 24th, 2011
8:15 am

God bless Edie Windsor. Hers is one of the cases that will result in DOMA being found unconstitutional.

“The New York case involves plaintiff Edie Windsor, who married another woman in Canada in 2007. New York state law recognized the marriage. But when her partner died, Windsor faced higher federal inheritance taxes because the U.S. government didn’t recognize the marriage.
“So the government taxed what I inherited from Thea as though we were strangers rather than spouses,” Windsor said at a press conference in November. “I am 81 years old and live on a fixed income, and paying that tax was not easy for me. Even more distressing, the woman I had cared for and shared my life with for over 40 years was not my legal spouse in the eyes of the federal government.”
Windsor’s lawsuit seeks a refund of the estate tax and to have the DOMA declared unconstitutional.”

DebbieDoRight

February 24th, 2011
8:17 am

Morning Peadawg!!! Happy Thursday!!

PS: Well maybe technically I did comment, but it’s just splitting hairs. Sorta like “I did not have sex with that woman” or “define ……. sex”.

Keep up the good fight!

February 24th, 2011
8:18 am

Pea…hmmm here you post healthcare is politics, over at Bookmans on WI collective bargaining its the Dem legislators who left the state who are “shyts”….. Here’s an idea…try a simple thing — consistency.

DebbieDoRight

February 24th, 2011
8:20 am

So I guess you will have no problem when the next Republican President and his/her justice department refuse to back the constutionality of health care bill. Playing the game this way is going to let future administration do the same thing to those laws you support.

A. Both parties do it all the time.
B. The health care bill IS legal and constitutional. Sorry.

Good Grief

February 24th, 2011
8:23 am

Debbie – Your B. response is where the slippery slope begins. According to judges appointed by liberal politicians the bill is constitutional. According to judges appointed by conservative politicians, part or all of the bill is unconstitutional. I guess it depends on what the definition of “is” is.

Good morning to you, by the way.

quod erat demonstrandum

February 24th, 2011
8:26 am

With this stance of his, is it any wonder that people question if he has any religious faith at all?

What would Allah Do?
What would Jesus Do?
What would Krishna Do?

Keep up the good fight!

February 24th, 2011
8:28 am

Let’s see….Republicans cheer when Boehner says they won’t fund Healthcare reform and there is no cry that “Its the law” then.

The Justice Department has not said it will not enforce the law. It has performed its duty by saying that given recent decisions the legal conclusion is that the constitutionality is not viable. That is the role of Justice.

granny godzilla

February 24th, 2011
8:28 am

QED

Jesus…I bet he’d turn water into wine at Adam and Steve’s wedding reception.

He was that kind of loving guy…..

Peadawg

February 24th, 2011
8:29 am

“Morning Peadawg!!! Happy Thursday!!” – Morning to you to. I was just messing with you.

Keep…stalker much? How is running around from your job like a chicken sh* just “politics”?

Herman Cain

February 24th, 2011
8:32 am

debbie doodoo andwee little eric, just keep living in your fantasy world, obozo is four and gone. Also, calling me names appears very racist on your part, oh yeah it can’t be racist if a bedwetter does it, sorry I forgot the rules of your pantywaste party.

Keep up the good fight!

February 24th, 2011
8:33 am

Pea…hissy fit much? Oh let’s see. You can post on 2 blogs but I can’t? What a childish post.

0311/0317 -1811/1801

February 24th, 2011
8:34 am

Cynthia:

“Finally, Obama and his Justice Department have conceded that one portion of DOMA — Section Three — is blatantly unconstitutional.”

The above is one of the most absurd statements I think you have ever made.

Guess what? The President and Justice Department DO NOT get to determine what is unconstitutional. Any 6th grade civics class teaches that or were you not paying attention.

Here is the presidential oath of office:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

DOMA was passed whether you like it or not by a co-equal branch of government.

The president is bound by his oath of office to defend our Constitution which means enforcing laws passed by Congress and signed into law.

He has violated his oath.

quod erat demonstrandum

February 24th, 2011
8:35 am

granny godzilla,

Maybe not, he was pretty conventional. He did uphold the Jewish traditions. But, then again, he did teach to the sinners.

granny godzilla

February 24th, 2011
8:37 am

qed

uphold jewish traditions?

he never married and hung around with 12 guys.

he also taught to saints.

dw

February 24th, 2011
8:37 am

call it whatever you want, it still is not marriage. should they be afforded rights of a civil union, i suppose yes.

dw

February 24th, 2011
8:38 am

To granny godzilla
February 24th, 2011
8:28 am

I would think he would have loved the people, but hated the sin. so i don’t think he would be to thrilled with Adam and Steve.

Adam

February 24th, 2011
8:39 am

Yeah lets focus on this when we have a crisis going on. Typical obama. Gawd you stupid liberals are the dumbest things on the planet. Instead of saying we will stop this dictator in libya and allying himself with other world leaders and getting oil prices down, he does what? Nothing!
The wonderful great obama! We just doscovered the most oil in the dakotas in 40 years and we sit on it. There’s enough oil to make us oil INDEPENDENT and could wipe out a lot of our deficit. And obama wants this green energy solar crap that does nothing and costs billions. Again this guy is an idiot. Drill, get us off this corn ethanol, which most repubs thankfully are trying to end, use the strategic reserve as an fu to opec and the middle east. but no not obama. he loves the middle east nations. so much so that i think he wants them to do well at our expense. ugh get this ugly loser out of here.

quod erat demonstrandum

February 24th, 2011
8:40 am

granny godzilla,

The saints were okay, preaching to the choir, the sinners needed his help.

BTW, there is no history written(literary or religious) of his life between 13 and 29, so your guess is as good as mine.

DebbieDoRight

February 24th, 2011
8:40 am

GG – Happy Thursday to you too!!! We celebrate Thursday because it means that Friday is just around the corner!!

RE: Your Comment – Quick question – Is the state of Georgia (or any state for that matter), demanding that car owners and/or drivers having to have car insurance unconstitutional?

Georgian

February 24th, 2011
8:42 am

Last time I checked, it was still called the Defense of Marriage Act, its not socalled, it is called. Democrats like Tucker make more excuses as to why things happen and are the way they are than a little kid who won’t clean their room.

Gays are not entitled to marry, it is not a right they have and it never will be.

Tucker, it should and it will….

dw

February 24th, 2011
8:43 am

to debbiedoright,
auto insurance is not mandatory, like proposed obamacare; only if you drive do you have to have it; so you are comparing apples to oranges.

Georgian

February 24th, 2011
8:43 am

Debbie,

Stupid Quick Question….

Joshua Villines

February 24th, 2011
8:44 am

Marriage is a civil construct, not a religious one. Because historically religious practice was deeply integrated into civic life, the role of celebrating marriages was often placed in the hands of religious leaders; but marriage predates any of the world’s major religious traditions and it is not limited to any one of them. Marriage should be for everyone, and religious groups are free to limit the rites they have created around marriage to whomever they please.

quod erat demonstrandum

February 24th, 2011
8:44 am

Adam,

You must understand the “Green Revolution”.

If we make conventional energy too expensive, we make the green stuff look cheap by comparison.

This way, we make Al Gore billions of dollars and wreck our economy.

We have proven reserves greater than Saudi Arabia and we sit on them. If the eco freaks allowed drilling 10 years ago, we would have had a plan “B”. The eco freaks have screwed us over again and again.

The world looks at us and says, they have all the natural resources they need, why should we sell to them?

Keep up the good fight!

February 24th, 2011
8:44 am

Scout Zero…I am sure you were as upset and calling Bush on his violation of his oath of office when he issued the signing statement associated with the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, prohibiting cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees in U.S. custody attracted controversy:

“The executive branch shall construe… the Act, relating to detainees, in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President to supervise the unitary executive branch and as Commander in Chief and consistent with the constitutional limitations on the judicial power….”