Last week, at the White House LGBT media briefing with Melody Barnes, both MetroWeekly’s Chris Geidner and I wanted to know if the President, who is a constitutional scholar, thought that DOMA and DADT were constitutional. Throughout the briefing, Barnes reiterated that Obama thought those laws are discriminatory. We’ve heard that many times. But, the Obama administration continues to defend these discriminatory laws in federal courts. So, we wanted to know if Obama thinks the laws are constitutional. We didn’t get an answer at the briefing, but got a commitment that we’d get an answer.
We got our response from the White House yesterday — and it didn’t answer the question:
As Melody noted, the President has long said he believes that both DOMA and DADT are discriminatory and that these laws should be repealed by Congress. The specific question of the Constitutionality of these laws is not an issue that he has spoken to.
This is something the President should speak to. If the President wanted to speak to the constitutionality of those laws, we gave him the perfect opportunity. But, the White House chose not to give an answer.
This isn’t just an intellectual exercise. Our rights are at stake. There are several cases on DOMA and DADT in the federal courts right now. The Obama administration’s Department of Justice is defending those laws at the district court level. But, if the plaintiffs on our side prevail on any of them, will the Obama administration appeal? And, what will the Obama administration do when the Prop. 8 case hits the Supreme Court? Will the Solicitor General support marriage equality? These aren’t far-fetched hypotheticals. These are issues that someone on Team Obama needs to think about. Because, the reelection campaign starts soon. And, if Barack Obama is still defending DOMA and DADT — and won’t speak out for full equality — that campaign is going to have some serious gay issues.
Obama could make a good start by stating that he thinks DADT and DOMA aren’t just discriminatory, but those laws are unconstitutional.