Obama defends DOMA in federal court. Says banning gay marriage is good for the federal budget. Invokes incest and marrying children.

UPDATE: Show Obama you mean business, donate to AMERICAblog.

UPDATE: Former top aide to President Clinton says DOJ had a choice, they did not have to file a brief in favor of DOMA.

UPDATE: Mormon Bush holdover helped write and file anti-gay DOMA brief.

UPDATE: Gay groups rip Obama.

UPDATE: Are gay politicians going to continue hosting gay pride fundraiser for Joe Biden?

UPDATE: Obama spokesman caught lying to Politico.

Joe and I have been trying since last night to get a copy of the government’s brief just filed in this case. This is not the GLAD case that we’ve written about previously, it’s another in California.

We just got the brief from reader Lavi Soloway. It’s pretty despicable, and gratuitously homophobic. It reads as if it were written by one of George Bush’s top political appointees. I cannot state strongly enough how damaging this brief is to us. Obama didn’t just argue a technicality about the case, he argued that DOMA is reasonable. That DOMA is constitutional. That DOMA wasn’t motivated by any anti-gay animus. He argued why our Supreme Court victories in Romer and Lawrence shouldn’t be interpreted to give us rights in any other area (which hurts us in countless other cases and battles). He argued that DOMA doesn’t discriminate against us because it also discriminates about straight unmarried couples (ignoring the fact that they can get married and we can’t).

He actually argued that the courts shouldn’t consider Loving v. Virginia, the miscegenation case in which the Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to ban interracial marriages, when looking at gay civil rights cases. He told the court, in essence, that blacks deserve more civil rights than gays, that our civil rights are not on the same level.

And before Obama claims he didn’t have a choice, he had a choice. Bush, Reagan and Clinton all filed briefs in court opposing current federal law as being unconstitutional (we’ll be posting more about that later). Obama could have done the same. But instead he chose to defend DOMA, denigrate our civil rights, go back on his promises, and contradict his own statements that DOMA was “abhorrent.” Folks, Obama’s lawyers are even trying to diminish the impact of Romer and Lawrence, our only two big Supreme Court victories. Obama is quite literally destroying our civil rights gains with this brief. He’s taking us down for his own benefit.

Holy cow. Obama invoked incest and people marrying children.

The courts have followed this principle, moreover, in relation to the validity of marriages performed in other States. Both the First and Second Restatements of Conflict of Laws recognize that State courts may refuse to give effect to a marriage, or to certain incidents of a marriage, that contravene the forum State’s policy. See Restatement (First) of Conflict of Laws § 134; Restatement (Second) of Conflict of Laws § 284.5 And the courts have widely held that certain marriages performed elsewhere need not be given effect, because they conflicted with the public policy of the forum. See, e.g., Catalano v. Catalano, 170 A.2d 726, 728-29 (Conn. 1961) (marriage of uncle to niece, “though valid in Italy under its laws, was not valid in Connecticut because it contravened the public policy of th[at] state”); Wilkins v. Zelichowski, 140 A.2d 65, 67-68 (N.J. 1958) (marriage of 16-year-old female held invalid in New Jersey, regardless of validity in Indiana where performed, in light of N.J. policy reflected in statute permitting adult female to secure annulment of her underage marriage); In re Mortenson’s Estate, 316 P.2d 1106 (Ariz. 1957) (marriage of first cousins held invalid in Arizona, though lawfully performed in New Mexico, given Arizona policy reflected in statute declaring such marriages “prohibited and void”).

Then in the next paragraph, they argue that the incest and child rape cases therefore make DOMA constitutional:

The fact that States have long had the authority to decline to give effect to marriages performed in other States based on the forum State’s public policy strongly supports the constitutionality of Congress’s exercise of its authority in DOMA.

Here is the entire document, and below are more excerpts:
Obama’s Motion to Dismiss Marriage case http://d.scribd.com/ScribdViewer.swf?document_id=16355867&access_key=key-1imfup80kg4qowe2io3r&page=1&version=1&viewMode=

Publish at Scribd or explore others: obama doma

DOMA is good because it saves the feds money

“The constitutional propriety of Congress’s decision to decline to extend federal benefits immediately to newly recognized types of marriages is bolstered by Congress’s articulated interest in preserving the scarce resources of both the federal and State governments. DOMA ensures that evolving understandings of the institution of marriage at the State level do not place greater financial and administrative obligations on federal and state benefits programs. Preserving scarce government resources — and deciding to extend benefits incrementally — are well-recognized legitimate interests under rational-basis review. See Butler, 144 F.3d at 625 (“There is nothing irrational about Congress’s stated goal of conserving social security resources, and Congress can incrementally pursue that goal.”); Hassan v. Wright, 45 F.3d 1063, 1069 (7th Cir. 1995) (“[P]rotecting the fisc provides a rational basis for Congress’ line drawing in this instance.”). Congress expressly relied on these interests in enacting DOMA: Government currently provides an array of material and other benefits to married couples in an effort to promote, protect, and prefer the institution of marriage. . . . If [a State] were to permit homosexuals to ma
rry, these marital benefits would, absent some legislative response, presumably have to be made available to homosexual couples and surviving spouses of homosexual marriages on the same terms as they are now available to opposite-sex married couples and spouses. To deny federal recognition to same-sex marriages will thus preserve scarce government resources, surely a legitimate government purpose.”

DOMA is constitutional (thus screwing us on any future lawsuits):

The constitutionality of Section 2 of DOMA is further confirmed by the second sentence of the Full Faith and Credit Clause, which expressly empowers Congress to prescribe “the Effect” to be accorded to the laws of a sister State. See U.S. Const. art. IV, § 1, cl. 2. Although the broad contours of this provision have not been conclusively established, the power exercised by Congress in enacting DOMA clearly conforms to any conceivable construction of the effects provision….

Under this view, Congress obviously acted within its plenary effects power in enacting Section 2 of DOMA. If the Constitution itself does not declare “the effect” of the law of “one state in another state,” McElmoyle, 38 U.S. (13 Pet.) at 325, but instead leaves that “power in congress,” Mills, 11 U.S. (7 Cranch) at 485, then Congress clearly had the authority in DOMA to declare that no State is “required to give effect” to the same-sex marriage laws of other States. 28 U.S.C. § 1738C.

“DOMA Is Consistent with Equal Protection and Due Process Principles.” This is important because it means that Obama wasn’t content to simply argue, based on technicalities, that this case should be thrown out. He went out of his way to argue that DOMA is actually constitutional, and then went into detail destroying every single constitutional argument we have for opposing DOMA in court. This will screw us on every lawsuit we file on every gay issue, in every public policy debate we have in the states on any gay issue.

DOMA Is Consistent with Equal Protection and Due Process Principles Plaintiffs further allege that DOMA violates their rights under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, including its equal protection component. DOMA, however, merely preserves for each State the authority to follow its own law and policy with respect to same-sex marriage for purposes of State law. And it maintains the status quo of federal policy, preserving a longstanding federal policy of promoting traditional marriages, by clarifying that the terms “marriage” and “spouse,” for purposes of federal law, refer to marriage between a man and a woman, and do not encompass relationships of any other kind within their ambit. Thus, because DOMA does not make a suspect classification or implicate a right that has been recognized as fundamental, it is necessarily subject to rational-basis scrutiny, see National Ass’n for Advancement of Psychoanalysis v. California Bd. of Psychology, 228 F.3d 1043, 1049 (9th Cir. 2000), which it satisfies.

Gays have no constitutional right to marriage, or recognition of their marriages by other states:

Plaintiffs are married, and their challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) poses a different set of questions: whether by virtue of their marital status they are constitutionally entitled to acknowledgment of their union by States that do not recognize same-sex marriage, and whether they are similarly entitled to certain federal benefits. Under the law binding on this Court, the answer to these questions must be no.

Praises DOMA as “cautiously limited”

DOMA reflects a cautiously limited response to society’s still-evolving understanding of the institution of marriage.

Sounds to me like Obama just came out against the Loving v. VA case that ensured that people like his parents could marry

On the merits, plaintiffs’ claims that DOMA violates the Full Faith and Credit Clause and their “right to travel” both fail as a matter of law. In allowing each State to withhold its recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions, Congress was merely confirming longstanding conflict-of-laws principles in a valid exercise of its express power to settle such questions under the Full Faith and Credit Clause. That Clause ensures that each State retains the authority to decline to apply another State’s law when it conflicts with its own public policies. DOMA is fully consistent with that constitutional principle, as it permits States to experiment with and maintain the exclusivity of their own legitimate public policies — such as whether that State chooses to recognize or reject same-sex marriages.

Gays don’t deserve same scrutiny in court that other minorities get

Because DOMA does not restrict any rights that have been recognized as fundamental or rely on any suspect classifications, it need not be reviewed with heightened scrutiny. Properly understood, the right at issue in this case is not a right to marry. After all, the federal government does not, either through DOMA or any other federal statute, issue marriage licenses or determine the standards for who may or may not get married. Indeed, as noted above — and as evidenced by the fact that plaintiffs have married in California — DOMA in no way prohibits same-sex couples from marrying. Instead, the only right at issue in this case is a right to receive certain benefits on the basis of a same-sex marriage. No court has ever found such a right to federal benefits on that basis to be fundamental — in fact, all of the courts that have considered the question have rejected such a claim. (And even if the right at issue in this case were the right to same-sex marriage, current Supreme Court precedent that binds this Court does not recognize such a right under the Constitution.) Likewise, DOMA does not discriminate, or permit the States to discriminate, on the basis of a suspect classification; indeed, the Ninth Circuit has held that sexual orientation is not a suspect classification.

Argues Republican position on how judges should review cases

DOMA therefore must be analyzed under rational-basis review. Under the highly deferential rational basis standard, moreover, a court may not act as superlegislature, sitting in judgment on the wisdom or morality of a legislative policy. Instead, a legislative policy must be upheld so long as there is any reasonably conceivable set of facts that could provide a rational basis for it, including ones that the Congress itself did not advance or consider. DOMA satisfies this standard.

The twisted logic of this paragraph is sickening. Pat Robertson could have written this:

Likewise, Section 3 of DOMA merely clarifies that federal policy is to make certain benefits available only to those persons united in heterosexual marriage, as opposed to any other possible relationship defined by law, family, or affection. As a result, gay and lesbian individuals who unite in matrimony are denied no federal benefits to which they were entitled prior to their marriage; they remain eligible for every benefit they enjoyed beforehand. DOMA simply provides, in effect, that as a result of their same-sex marriage they will not become eligible for the set of benefits that Congress has reserved exclusively to those who are related by the bonds of heterosexual marriage. In short, then, the failure in this manner to recognize a certain subset of marriages that are recognized by a certain subset of States cannot be taken as an infringement on plaintiffs’ rights, even if same-sex marriage were accepted as a fundamental right under the Constitution.

DOMA is a good thing:

It adopts on the national level, and permits on the state level, a wait-and-see approach to new forms of marriage. DOMA thus maximizes democratic flexibility under our federalist scheme, by simply preventing some States from requiring other States and the federal government to grant benefits to forms of marriages that, under their own constitutions, state or federal governments are not obligated to recognize. Because it is rationally related to legitimate governmental interests, plaintiffs cannot overcome the “presumption of constitutionality” that DOMA, like all federal statutes, enjoys.

DOMA is rational and constitutional:

Its cautious decision simply to maintain the federal status quo while preserving the ability of States to experiment with new definitions of marriage is entirely rational. Congress may subsequently decide to extend federal benefits to same-sex marriages, but its decision to reserve judgment on the question does not render any differences in the availability of federal benefits irrational or unconstitutional.

Provides legal argument against gays’ right to privacy:

Second, the right to privacy encompasses only rights that are constitutionally fundamental, and, as noted earlier, the right to receive benefits on the basis of same-sex marriage (as well as same-sex marriage itself) has not been recognized by the courts as a fundamental right.

It’s reasonable and rational for Congress to defend “traditional” marriage – in fact, DOMA was actual a very “neutral” law, rather than anti-gay:

Section 3 of DOMA reflects just such an approach: it maximizes democratic flexibility and self-governance under our federalist system, by adopting a policy of federal neutrality with respect to a matter that is primarily the concern of state government. Because all 50 States recognize heterosexual marriage, it was reasonable and rational for Congress to maintain its longstanding policy of fostering this traditional and universally-recognized form of marriage. At the same time, because Congress recognized both the freedom of States to expand the traditional definition, and the freedom of other States to decline to recognize this newer form of marriage, a policy of neutrality dictated that Congress not extend federal benefits to new forms of marriage recognized by some States.

Again, Obama seems to states have the right to ban blacks from marrying whites:

[T]he public policy doctrine, which has long recognized the sovereign authority of the States to decline to give effect to the laws of a sister State at variance with their own legitimate public policy. Section 2 of DOMA merely confirms the specific applicability of that longstanding principle in the context of laws regarding same-sex marriage.

DOMA is entirely rational

Congress makes a wide array of federal financial and other benefits available to men and women united in marriage — to the exclusion of all other human relationships (save for that of parent and minor child), not just same-sex marriage. In enacting DOMA, Congress (1) recognized the right of some States to expand the traditional understanding of marriage while, at the same time, it (2) protected the rights of other States to adhere to their traditional understandings of the institution, and (3) maintained the longstanding federal policy of affording benefits to the traditional, and universally recognized, version of marriage. This measured response to society’s evolving understandings of marriage is entirely rational. Indeed, under rational basis scrutiny, Congress is entitled to respond to new social phenomena one step at a time, and to adjust national policy incrementally. DOMA reflects just such a response.

DOMA wasn’t motivated by a dislike of gays, silly.

Under our federalist system, preserving the autonomy of state and federal governments to address evolving definitions of an age-old societal institution is itself a legitimate governmental interest. Moreover, because DOMA protected “the ability of elected officials to decide matters related to homosexuality,” including their right to recognize same-sex marriage, it plainly was not born solely as a result of animosity towards homosexuals.

Please don’t confuse the gays with the blacks, and other “real” marriages:

Finally, regardless of whether same-sex marriage is appropriate policy, under current legal precedent there is no constitutional right to it, and that precedent is binding on these parties and this Court. While the Supreme Court has held that the right to marry is “fundamental,” Zablocki v. Redhail, 434 U.S. 374, 383-87, 98 S. Ct. 673, 54 L.Ed.2d 618 (1978), that right has not been held to
encompass the right to marry someone of the same sex. To the contrary, in Baker v. Nelson, the Supreme Court dismissed a claim that the Constitution provides a right to same-sex marriage for lack of a “substantial federal question.” 409 U.S. 810, 93 S. Ct. 37, 34 L.Ed.2d 65 (1972) (Mem). In Baker, the Minnesota Supreme Court had rejected the contention that a State statute limiting marriage to one man and one woman violated federal due process and equal protection principles. The court found no “fundamental right” to same-sex marriage, 191 N.W.2d at 186-87, and concluded that the traditional definition of marriage effects no “invidious discrimination,” and that the definition easily withstood rational-basis review. Id. at 187.

DOMA infringes on nobody’s rights

In short, therefore, DOMA, understood for what it actually does, infringes on no one’s rights, and in all events it infringes on no right that has been constitutionally protected as fundamental, so as to invite heightened scrutiny.

DOMA doesn’t discriminate against gays – all they have to do to get the benefits is get married… to someone of the opposite sex! (This is an argument Obama stole verbatim from the religious right.)

Plaintiffs also maintain that DOMA discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation, in violation of their right to the equal protection of the law, see Complaint, ¶ 20, but DOMA is not subject to heightened scrutiny on that basis. As an initial matter, plaintiffs misperceive the nature of the line that Congress has drawn. DOMA does not discriminate against homosexuals in the provision of federal benefits. To the contrary, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is prohibited in federal employment and in a wide array of federal benefits programs by law, regulation, and Executive order…. Section 3 of DOMA does not distinguish among persons of different sexual orientations, but rather it limits federal benefits to those who have entered into the traditional form of marriage.

Please don’t compare gay marriages to inter-racial marriages

Loving v. Virginia is not to the contrary. There the Supreme Court rejected a contention that the assertedly “equal application” of a statute prohibiting interracial marriage immunized the statute from strict scrutiny. 388 U.S. 1, 8, 87 S.Ct. 1817, 18 L.Ed.2d 1010 (1967). The Court had little difficulty concluding that the statute, which applied only to “interracial marriages involving white persons,” was “designed to maintain White Supremacy” and therefore unconstitutional. Id. at 11. No comparable purpose is present here, however, for DOMA does not seek in any way to advance the “supremacy” of men over women, or of women over men. Thus DOMA cannot be “traced to a . . . purpose” to discriminate against eit
her men or women. Personnel Adm’r v. Feeney, 442 U.S. 256, 272, 99 S. Ct. 2282, 60 L.Ed.2d 870 (1979). In upholding the traditional definition of marriage, numerous courts have expressly rejected an alleged analogy to Loving.

DOMA is downright reasonable

In light of society’s still evolving understanding of marriage, the statute adopted what amounted to a cautious policy of federal neutrality towards a new form of marriage. DOMA maintains federal policies that have long sought to promote the traditional and uniformly-recognized form of marriage, recognizes the right of each State to expand the traditional definition if it so chooses, but declines to obligate federal taxpayers in other States to subsidize a form of marriage their own States do not recognize. This policy of neutrality maximizes state autonomy and democratic self-governance in an area of traditional state concern, and preserves scarce government resources. It is thus entirely rational.

DOMA is reasonable and rational

Section 3 of DOMA reflects just such an approach: it maximizes democratic flexibility and self-governance under our federalist system, by adopting a policy of federal neutrality with respect to a matter that is primarily the concern of state government. Because all 50 States recognize heterosexual marriage, it was reasonable and rational for Congress to maintain its longstanding policy of fostering this traditional and universally-recognized form of marriage. At the same time, because Congress recognized both the freedom of States to expand the traditional definition, and the freedom of other States to decline to recognize this newer form of marriage, a policy of neutrality dictated that Congress not extend federal benefits to new forms of marriage recognized by some States. Given the strength of competing convictions on this still-evolving issue, Congress could reasonably decide that federal benefits funded by taxpayers throughout the nation should not be used to foster a form of marriage that only some States recognize, and that other States do not.

We wouldn’t want the gays taking all of our money

DOMA ensures that evolving understandings of the institution of marriage at the State level do not place greater financial and administrative obligations on federal and state benefits programs. Preserving scarce government resources — and deciding to extend benefits incrementally — are well-recognized legitimate interests under rational-basis review.

Obama was doing us a favor

On plaintiffs’ view, even though Congress was under no independent constitutional obligation to recognize same-sex marriage before any State did so, once a single State legalized same-sex marriage, equal protection principles mandated that Congress extend federal benefits to such marriages, or withdraw them from all marriages. No constitutional principle, however, mandates such a result, which is fundamentally at odds with our federalist scheme of divided sovereignty, and which could be a substantial disincentive for States to recognize new rights and privileges as circumstances evolve.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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