Socarides: ‘the bottom line is the government continues to oppose full equality for its gay citizens’

Last night, John reported on AMERICAblog Gay that the Obama administration is still defending DOMA in the courts. The President and his Department of Justice don’t have to do it, but they are. And, that’s just wrong. I don’t think this counts as “evolving.”

From Ben Smith:

Gay groups are furious with a Justice Department brief defending — though in quite narrow terms — the Defense of Marriage Act, which Candidate Obama, unlike even his Democratic rivals, had pledged to repeal in full.

“DOMA is supported by rationales that constitute a sufficient rational basis for the law. For example, as explained below, it is supported by an interest in maintaining the status quo and uniformity on the federal level, and preserving room for the development of policy in the states,” says the government’s brief (.pdf) in two cases in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. The brief focuses solely on the virtues of keeping the federal law while state’s experiment, and not the underlying question of marriage.

The half-heartedness of that defense didn’t offer much solace to activists who — despite the Justice Department’s traditional role defending federal laws — are demanding that Obama return to the full support for same-sex marriage that he advocated in the 1990s.

“There are some improvements in tone in the brief, but the bottom line is the government continues to oppose full equality for its gay citizens,” said Equality Matters chief Richard Socarides in an email. “And that is unacceptable.”

Completely unacceptable. And, this is going to be a problem for the reelection campaign. Soon-to-be Campaign Manager Jim Messina is going to have to figure this one out. The President is going to have to be clear about his full support for marriage equality.


On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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