August 18, 2009.
The White House filed court papers Monday, August 17, 2009, claiming the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) discriminates against gays, defended DOMA in a separate lawsuit, then hired a gay liaison.
"The administration believes the Defense of Marriage Act is discriminatory and should be repealed," said Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler, "because it prevents equal rights and benefits," after announcing the new filing.
Yet, USA Today reports, government lawyers continue their efforts to dismiss a suit brought by a gay California couple challenging DOMA. We are obligated, Schmaler added, "to defend federal statutes when they are challenged in court. The Justice Department cannot pick and choose which laws it will defend based on any one administration's policy preferences."
The administration's response in that case has angered gay activists who see it as backtracking on campaign promises made by Barack Obama. DOMA denies federal recognition of gay marriage and gives states the right to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. Obama has pledged to work to repeal the law.
Photo of Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC)
“It is not enough to disavow this discriminatory law, and then wait for Congress or the courts to act,” said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign. “While they contend that is the (Department of Justice’s) duty to defend an act of Congress, we contend that it is the administration’s duty to defend every citizen from discrimination.”
Photo of Matt Nosanchuk, the White House's new gay liaison
GOOD NEWS FROM THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION:
Wolff wrote: "I am pleased to pass along the news that Matt Nosanchuk has been hired as Senior Counselor to the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in the Department of Justice. Matt served as one of the leaders of the LGBT policy group from the first days of the Obama campaign.
"He is a respected out gay attorney and public policy advocate whose previous positions include serving as counselor to Senator Bill Nelson of Florida and doing significant policy work on gun control. In addition to his other duties as Senior Counselor to the Assistant AG, Matt will be the front office point person on LGBT issues for the DOJ Civil Rights Division."
Also visit http://www.galechesterwhittington.com/ for free humor, short stories, poems, and book excerpts from the award-winning gay author