The Obama administration made a blockbuster announcement Feb. 23, saying it has concluded that one part of the Defense of Marriage Act ( DOMA ) will not be able to pass constitutional muster in the 2nd Circuit and that the Department of Justice ( DoJ ) would not defend that part of the law in two pending cases in that circuit.
It was a dramatic, unexpected, and significant move by the Obama administration and one that could trigger maneuvers by DOMA supporters to appoint an intervenor to defend the law. But beyond the eventual legal consequences of the announcement, the political impact was characterized by most LGBT leaders as historic and monumental.
"This is a monumental turning point in the history of the quest for equality for lesbian, gay and bisexual people," said Jon Davidson, legal director for Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund.
NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell put it even more strongly.
"The president's leadership on this issue has forever changed the landscape for LGBT people in this country," said Kendell. "For the first time, the president and the Department of Justice have recognized that laws that harm same-sex couples cannot be justified. This is the beginning of the end, not just for the mean-spirited and indefensible Defense of Marriage Act, but for the entire panoply of laws that discriminate against same-sex couples."
Attorney General Eric Holder announced Feb. 23 that the DoJ would not defend the constitutionality of Section 3 of DOMA in two of the four cases where that section of the law is currently under challenge. Those two cases are Pedersen v. OPM, filed by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, and Windsor v. United States, filed by the ACLU.
Two other casesin the First Circuitalso challenge Section 3, which prohibits federal recognition of any same-sex marriage, as does a more narrow case, Golinski v. OPM, in the 9th Circuit, at the district court level.
DOMA's Section 2, which enables states to ignore valid marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples from other states, has not yet been challenged in court and Holder made no reference to it.
Since entering the White House, President Obama has said that DOMA should be repealed, but his administration continued to defend the law, saying, through various spokespersons, that Obama was concerned about setting a precedent that would make it easier for some future administration to pick and choose which laws it would defend.
Last summer, asked whether there is not a difference between enforcing existing laws and defending them in court, his domestic policy chief, Melody Barnes, said the president believed DOMA and "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" to be "discriminatory" but that he had not yet "made an argument" concerning their constitutionality.
" [ W ] e believe we have an obligation to defend the law if Congress had a rational basis for passing the law," said Barnes.
In his announcement Holder noted that the administration would still defend DOMA Section 3 in the two First Circuit cases because the First Circuit has ruled that rational basis is sufficient justification for treating people differently based on their sexual orientation. ( He was apparently referring to the unsuccessful class action case challenging DADT. ) But Holder also noted that DoJ attorneys would argue that the court should, instead, apply a stricter test for DOMA.
Lambda Marriage Project Director Jenny Pizer said the First Circuit would make its own decision about whether to adopt Holder's view.
"Any court is going to make its own determination about what the law requires," said Pizer. "The government is usually given particular credence, but it is always court's job to decide what the law requires." But Pizer noted that the increasing volume of voices declaring the injustice of DOMA can have an influence, particularly given that the arguments made in support of DOMA "are not even coherent."
It is possiblejust as happened in Californiathat some other entity might attempt to mount its own defense of DOMA in the pending cases. Last October, U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, filed a motion in the two First Circuit cases, seeking to be named intervenor-defendant. Smith, aided by the right-wing Alliance Defense Fund, said at the time that the Justice Department was providing "no defense at all" for DOMA. He withdrew his motion a few weeks later, without comment.
Pizer said she thinks it is "very likely" someone will ask the First Circuit for permission to serve as a defendant-intervenor in the DOMA cases. And she noted Congress has the authority to appoint its own counsel to defend the law. Such was the development in the California same-sex marriage case, Perry v. Schwarzenegger. The federal district court allowed the group that sought passage of Proposition 8, Yes on 8, to defend the law at trial. The 9th Circuit recently asked the California Supreme Court to determine whether any state law gives Yes on 8 the authority to appeal that district court decision in the federal appeals court.
A three-judge panel of the First Circuit is currently receiving written briefs from both sides in the DOMA cases and, presumably, will now receive a written brief from DoJ arguing that DOMA Section 3 should meet a heightened standard of review.
NCLR's Shannon Minter said he believes the law "can't survive" that standard.
Mary Bonauto, lead attorney on the DOMA cases for GLAD, could not be reached for comment. But Anthony Romeroexecutive director of the ACLU, which has filed one of the Second Circuit casespraised Obama for doing "the right thing." Romero said Obama's action has "just propelled gay rights into the 21st century, where it belongs. Our government finally recognizes what we knew 14 years agothat the so-called 'Defense of Marriage Act' is a gross violation of the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection before the law. DOMA betrays core American values of fairness, justice and dignity for all, and has no place in America."
©2011 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.
Lambda Legal Applauds DOJ Announcement that it Will No Longer Defend "Defense of Marriage Act"
"The President and the Attorney General recognized today what we have been saying in court since the day we opened our doors: Discriminating against people on the basis of sexual orientation should be presumed to be unconstitutional and unconstitutional laws should not be defended. It is past time for DOMA to become only an ugly part of our nation's history."
( New York, February 23, 2011 ) - After the Department of Justice announced that it will no longer defend the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act" in court, Lambda Legal issued the following statement from Legal Director Jon Davidson:
"This is a monumental turning point in the history of the quest for equality for lesbian, gay and bisexual people. The President and the Attorney General recognized today what we have been saying in court since the day we opened our doors: Discriminating against people on the basis of sexual orientation should be presumed to be unconstitutional and unconstitutional laws should not be defended. It is past time for DOMA to become only an ugly part of our nation's history.
"We are proud of our part in the precedent setting cases leading to today's announcement. Both Romer v. Evans and Lawrence v. Texas are landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases litigated by Lambda Legal that established among other things that the equal protection guarantee in the federal Constitutional applies to gay people. The Attorney General expressly relied on these cases in his letter to Congress explaining why laws discriminating against people based on their sexual orientation are suspect and that the so-called DOMA is unconstitutional.
"While the so-called DOMA is very clearly crumbling it is not yet gone. The executive branch will continue to enforce it until it is repealed by Congress or struck down by the courts. We will continue our efforts to dismantle this law, along with all other laws that discriminate based on sexual orientation. Today's action by the President and the Department of Justice hastens the day when those laws will no longer stain our nation."
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force responds to Obama administration's decision not to defend discriminatory marriage law
WASHINGTON, Feb. 23 The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force applauds the Obama administration's announcement calling on the Department of Justice not to defend the discriminatory, so-called "Defense of Marriage Act" ( DOMA ) . In a letter to Congress and a statement released today, Attorney General Eric Holder concluded that classifications based on sexual orientation warrant heightened scrutiny, and that section 3 of DOMA is therefore unconstitutional.
Statement by Rea Carey, Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
"The decision by the Obama administration not to defend the discriminatory, so-called 'Defense of Marriage Act' is a tremendous step toward recognizing our common humanity and ending an egregious injustice against thousands of loving, committed couples who simply want the protections, rights and responsibilities afforded other married couples. We thank the Obama administration for having the integrity to recognize that this law should not be defended in court. Discrimination has no place in our society, and DOMA has only served to belittle our country's deeply held values of freedom and fairness. It's time to end DOMA once and for all."
HRC praises move as rare and extraordinary step for same-sex couples and their families
WASHINGTON The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, today praised the Obama Administration's decision not to continue its defense of the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act" ( DOMA ) in court. DOMA denies federal recognition and benefits to legally married same-sex couples and purports to allow states to deny recognition to those couples as well.
"This is a monumental decision for the thousands of same-sex couples and their families who want nothing more than the same rights and dignity afforded to other married couples," said HRC President Joe Solmonese. "As the President has stated previously, DOMA unfairly discriminates against Americans and we applaud him for fulfilling his oath to defend critical constitutional principles."
HRC has engaged in an effort to encourage the administration to abandon its defense of the statute for years, including writing to the President directly and encouraging our members and supporters to contact the administration as well.
Under federal law, the Department of Justice must report to Congress its intent not to defend the statute and it is likely that anti-LGBT leaders in Congress will take up its defense.
"Congressional leaders must not waste another taxpayer dollar defending this patently unconstitutional law," said Solmonese. "The federal government has no business picking and choosing which legal marriages they want to recognize. Instead Congress should take this opportunity to wipe the stain of marriage discrimination from our laws."
DOMA, passed in 1996, denies married same-sex couples over 1,000 rights, benefits and responsibilities tied to marriage under federal law. These include Social Security survivors' benefits, family and medical leave, equal compensation as federal employees, and immigration rights, among many others.
The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.
Columbia Law School Professors statements:
New York, Feb. 23, 2011 The Obama administration said today that it would not defend in court the Defense of Marriage Act ( DOMA ) , the 15-year-old federal law that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. The Justice Department had previously defended the law, but said it had determined in a pair of cases in the federal appeals court in New York that it was no longer constitutional.
The co-directors of the Columbia Law School's Center for Gender and Sexuality Law offered the following comments about today's announcement:
Katherine Franke, Professor of Law; Director, Center for Gender and Sexuality Law:The Obama administration is to be applauded for recognizing the injustice and discrimination that were solidified into law with the enactment of the Defense of Marriage Act ( DOMA ) . His decision, along with his Attorney General, to abandon defense of lawsuits challenging DOMA signals a true shift in the recognition of the fundamental rights of lesbians and gay men to organize their lives in ways equal to those of heterosexuals. I also applaud the President and Attorney General's statement that sexual orientation should be treated as a suspect class under equal protection analysis, thus requiring any state that seeks to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation to provide not just a plausible, but a compelling reason for doing so. This represents a sea change in the recognition of lesbian and gay rights in the U.S.
The President and Justice Department could, however, take one further step, and refuse to defend the lawsuits challenging Don't Ask, Don't Tell. At the same time that the Administration has changed policy on the marriage rights of same-sex couples, it continues to defend the blatantly discriminatory policy of the U.S. military. This is particularly surprising given that Congress has authorized the repeal of DADT and the President has recognized that maintenance of the policy undermines unit readiness and national security. I urge him to reverse course in the DADT litigation just as he has in the DOMA cases.
Suzanne Goldberg, Clinical Professor of Law; Director, Center for Gender and Sexuality Law: This major turn should be a final nail in the coffin for the different treatment of gay and nongay people by the federal government in marriage and the military. It is a long time coming and is wonderful news for the entire nation as we move a giant step closer to equality for all.
Equality Matters statement:
Statement by Equality Matters President Richard Socarides: "This is a very significant and welcomed development. I commend the President on his bold leadership. It means that the discriminatory and harmful Defense of Marriage Act is on its last legs. The federal government is one big step closer to providing equal rights and responsibilities to millions of loving and legally married same-sex couples. This is an important moment in the struggle for full equality and the President deserves a lot of credit."
THE CHANGING LANDSCAPE FOR MARRIAGE: "It is clear to an increasing majority of Americans that we should no longer deny the right to marry to any of our citizens. The signs are very good in Maryland with the state senate expected to pass a marriage bill as early as tomorrow, making it our sixth state where all Americans are allowed the rights and responsibilities of marriage. Maryland can provide important momentum for New York, which may be next, before the summer, if Gov. Cuomo gets his way. And Rhode Island is possible this year too," said Equality Matters President Richard Socarides.
WHAT THE PRESIDENT TOLD KERRY ELEVELD LAST DECEMBER: Eleveld: "What about not defending DOMA?" The President: "As I said before, I have a whole bunch of really smart lawyers who are looking at a whole range of options. My preference wherever possible is to get things done legislatively because I think it ; it gains a legitimacy, even among people who don't like the change, that is valuable. …That may not be possible in DOMA's case. That's something that I think we have to strategize on over the next several months." Cont. reading: http://bit.ly/glyy5H
SOCARIDES IN JUNE 2009 ON OBAMA DEFENDING DOMA: "Like many other gay people who support the president, and as someone who had hoped he would be a presidential-sized champion of gay civil rights from the start, I was disturbed by his administration's brief defending the so-called Defense of Marriage Act ( DOMA ) , filed late last week, in opposition to our full equality." Cont. reading: http://bit.ly/amyIUv
RECAP ON WHAT OBAMA HAS SAID ON MARRIAGE AND WHEN: --Obama told AmericaBlog's Joe Sudbay in October: "I also think you're right that attitudes evolve, including mine." http://bit.ly/bHA739
--Obama told Equality Matter's Kerry Eleveld in December: "I'm wrestling with this. My attitudes are evolving on this." http://bit.ly/glyy5H
--ABC&rsq uo;s Jake Tapper later asked: "Is it intellectually consistent to say that gays and Lesbians should be able to fight and die for this country, but they should not be able to marry the people they love?" Obama: "My feelings on this are constantly evolving … I struggle with this." http://bit.ly/gGQkeg
THE "GLITCH" WITH PRESIDENT OBAMA'S CIVIL UNIONS POSITION: Kerry Eleveld in The Washington Post:
--"There is a serious flaw in the president's position of viewing civil unions as a path to giving same-sex couples equal relationship recognition: The federal government does not recognize civil unions for the purposes of spousal benefits. In fact, no legislation to formalize civil unions exists at the federal level.
--"That means that advocates of civil unions, Obama included, are suggesting for lesbian and gay couples a status for which the federal government has no definition and no frame of reference within its codes, and one that provides no path to legal recognition." http://wapo.st/gADaEn
RECAP WHERE FULL MARRIAGE RIGHTS EXIST: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Iowa, as well as in the District of Columbia. In California, supporters are mounting a challenge in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage there after it had been legal for 18 months. New York recognizes same-sex marriages performed outside the state.
HAWAII CLOSE ON CIVIL UNIONS: The Hawaii Senate voted 18-5 last Wednesday to approve a measure that would legalize civil unions for gay and lesbian couples. The measure now awaits Governor Neil Abercrombie's signature, after which Hawaii will become the seventh state to provide civil unions to same-sex couples.
HELP MARYLAND NOW AND TAKE ACTION:
--For Maryland residents visit Equality Maryland's site: http://bit.ly/eA4G4v
--You can also participate in Friendfactor's Pop the Question campaign: http://bit.ly/gP9N3t
READ MORE ON RECENT MARRIAGE POLLING FROM EQM: http://bit.ly/gWE73t
--Political statistician Nate Silver reviewed key polls on gay marriage last August ( bit.ly/dtaJwp ) and wrote about America's "shift." A CNN poll last year ( bit.ly/ct9IAW ) was the first to find a majority of Americans support marriage for gays and lesbians.
READ THE ENTIRE STATEMENT OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL ON LITIGATION INVOLVING THE DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE ACT WASHINGTON: bit.ly/gY9dEY
The Attorney General made the following statement today about the Department's course of action in two lawsuits, Pedersen v. OPM and Windsor v. United States, challenging Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act ( DOMA ) , which defines marriage for federal purposes as only between a man and a woman:
In the two years since this Administration took office, the Department of Justice has defended Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act on several occasions in federal court. Each of those cases evaluating Section 3 was considered in jurisdictions in which binding circuit court precedents hold that laws singling out people based on sexual orientation, as DOMA does, are constitutional if there is a rational basis for their enactment. While the President opposes DOMA and believes it should be repealed, the Department has defended it in court because we were able to advance reasonable arguments under that rational basis standard.
Section 3 of DOMA has now been challenged in the Second Circuit, however, which has no established or binding standard for how laws concerning sexual orientation should be treated. In these cases, the Administration faces for the first time the question of whether laws regarding sexual orientation are subject to the more permissive standard of review or whether a more rigorous standard, under which laws targeting minority groups with a history of discrimination are viewed with suspicion by the courts, should apply.
After careful consideration, including a review of my recommendation, the President has concluded that given a number of factors, including a documented history of discrimination, cla ssifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to a more heightened standard of scrutiny. The President has also concluded that Section 3 of DOMA, as applied to legally married same-sex couples, fails to meet that standard and is therefore unconstitutional. Given that conclusion, the President has instructed the Department not to defend the statute in such cases. I fully concur with the President's determination.
Consequently, the Department will not defend the constitutionality of Section 3 of DOMA as applied to same-sex married couples in the two cases filed in the Second Circuit. We will, however, remain parties to the cases and continue to represent the interests of the United States throughout the litigation. I have informed Members of Congress of this decision, so Members who wish to defend the statute may pursue that option. The Department will also work closely with the courts to ensure that Cong ress has a full and fair opportunity to participate in pending litigation.
Furthermore, pursuant to the President's instructions, and upon further notification to Congress, I will instruct Department attorneys to advise courts in other pending DOMA litigation of the President's and my conclusions that a heightened standard should apply, that Section 3 is unconstitutional under that standard and that the Department will cease defense of Section 3.
The Department has a longstanding practice of defending the constitutionality of duly-enacted statutes if reasonable arguments can be made in their defense. At the same time, the Department in the past has declined to defend statutes despite the availability of professionally responsible arguments, in part because as here the Department does not consider every such argument to be a "reasonable" one. Moreover, the Department has declin ed to defend a statute in cases, like this one, where the President has concluded that the statute is unconstitutional.
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.
Quigley Statement on Justice Department Ruling Defense of Marriage Act Unconstitutional
CHICAGOToday, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley ( IL-05 ) issued the following statement after the Justice Department ruled the Defense of Marriage Act ( DOMA ) unconstitutional. The Defense of Marriage Act defines marriage as between a man and a woman and discriminates against legally married same-sex couples.
"I applaud today's decision by the Justice Department to stand on the right side of history and end its support of the disgraceful Defense of Marriage Act. We have made great strides toward equality in recent months by repealing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and legalizing civil unions in Illinois, and today another blow has been struck against bigotry and discrimination. It is my hope that this momentum carries us to a full dismantling of the Defense of Marriage Act and a new era of civil rights for every American."
Quigley, in his second term in Congress, is a co-sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal ( DOMA ) and ensure that couples who assume the serious legal responsibilities of marriage are treated fairly under federal law.
Statement of Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin:
"I welcome the news that the Department of Justice will not be defending the Defense of Marriage Act in two important cases in New England. This represents a real shift in Department of Justice policy and is one step toward the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act.
Some people wonder what difference this makes. Today in the U.S., there are five states plus theDistrict of Columbia that issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. That means there are thousands of same-sex couples across the U.S. with valid marriage licenses who are being discriminated against at the national level because of the Defense of Marriage Act.
So today, we have one small, but very significant, step in the ultimate effort to either see the Defense of Marriage Act repealed by an act of Congress or declared unconstitutional by a court in the United States. This is progress and I'm delighted with the Attorney General's choice."
The Defense of Marriage Act denies to married same-sex couples hundreds of rights now enjoyed by heterosexual married couples. These include medical proxy; inheritance; tax benefits; employee benefits for families, such as health and life insurance, bereavement, sick leave, child rights and custodial protection, among many others.
Marriage Equality USA statement:
"There are thousands of same-sex couples legally married across the country. DOMA stands in the doorway of recognizing and honoring those marriages and denying same-sex couples access to the 1,138 federal rights of marriage. This injustice cannot and will not stand. President Obama's decision restores our faith and our hope that he will be the President who brings our country on par with our allies across the globe and ensures fairness and justice for all its citizens," said Molly McKay, Marriage Equality USA Media Director.
Washington, D.C. Servicemembers Legal Defense Network ( SLDN ) issued the following statement today:
"The Obama Administration's announcement to stop defending the constitutionality of key parts of DOMA reflects where the vast majority of Americans stand today on fundamental fairness. The Justice Department was right to cite how our laws are changing. More important, the views of the American people are changing on these issues. The Supreme Court's favorable Lawrence decision in 2003 recognizing the rights of adults, including gays and lesbians, to engage in consensual relationships, as well as the recent Congressional votes to repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' underscore this shift and were properly cited by the Justice Department," said Aubrey Sarvis, Army veteran and executive director for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.
"Servicemembers Legal Defense Networks regrets the Justice Department continues to defend the 'Don't Ask' law in court, but this can and should come to an end as soon as the Obama Administration makes a needed certification that will finally trigger the repeal of that law. This should happen sooner rather than later," Sarvis continued.
Congressman Jared Polis cheers Justice Department's decision on DOMA
WASHINGTON, D.C. In response to the Administration's conclusion that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage ( Act ) , a bill that restricts the federal definition of marriage to one man and one woman, is unconstitutional, Congressman Jared Polis released the following statement.
"I applaud the Administration for finally recognizing what my colleagues and I have long criticizedthat this is an unconstitutional law.
I am confident that today's decision will secure a path to equality for every American wishing to participate in the tradition of marriage. To deny people the ability to officially acknowledge their relationship and feel welcomed as partners only for being LGBT is absurd and today's decision confirms this. It is now an urgent call for us in Congress to address this violation of the constitution and repeal this abhorrent law."
Williams Institute Experts Comment on Department of Justice DOMA Decision
In light of the announcement today from Attorney General Eric Holder that the Department of Justice will no longer defend the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act ( DOMA ) , experts at the Williams Institute provide legal analysis and new research on the number of married same-sex couples in the United States.
"Today's decision by President Obama is a landmark moment in the history of the LGBT rights movement. For the first time, a US President and his administration have formally acknowledged that sexual orientation should be treated with heightened scrutiny. By taking this position, the Administration indicates not only that DOMA is unconstitutional, but that virtually all forms of discrimination against LGBT people are. The legal history of the LGBT rights movement is filled with a long line of cases listing the federal government as defendant; at least under this Administration, that line has been broken."
-- Brad Sears, Executive Director, The Williams Institute
"If the federal government recognizes legal marriages by same-sex couples, between 50,000 and 80,000 same-sex couples would be recognized for purposes of federal law. These couples would be treated as married by the tax code, social security programs, federal employee benefits, and many other programs. If civil union-like relationships are also included, another 85,000 same-sex couples would also be covered by those programs."
- Lee Badgett, Research Director, The Williams Institute
Williams Institute Research has shown:
• Approximately 50,000 same-sex couples have married, based on the number of couples who have married in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, and New Hampshire, according to administrative data from those states, and used estimates for same-sex couples marrying in California and the District of Columbia.
• A previous study of same-sex couples conducted last year estimated that 80,000 same-sex couples reported being legally married. This suggests that as many as 30,000 same-sex couples might have married in other countries, most likely in Canada.
• Another 85,000 same-sex couples have entered civil unions or domestic partnerships ( i.e. those statuses with the same state rights and obligations of marriage ) in Vermont, California, New Jersey, Oregon, New Hampshire, Washington, and Nevada.
• Altogether, these figures suggest that 9% of same-sex couples have married in the United States, along with as many as 5% more in other countries; and 15% are in civil union-like legal relationships.
• Altogether, 28% of the 581,300 same-sex couples in the United States are in legally recognized relationships that are marriages or a state-level equivalent.
The Williams Institute advances sexual orientation law and public policy through rigorous, independent research and scholarship, and disseminates it to judges, legislators, policymakers, media and the public. A national think tank at UCLA Law, the Williams Institute produces high quality research with real-world relevance.
National Black Justice Coalition Thanks President Obama For Decision to Stop Defending DOMA Cases; Calls it a Move Toward Recognizing Fundamental Liberty of All Americans, Feb. 24, 2011
Washington, DC--Today, National Black Justice Coalition ( NBJC ) Executive Director Sharon Lettman-Hicks released the following statement: NBJC applauds President Obama for his decision to no longer defend DOMA. He has taken another bold, courageous step toward acknowledging the needs of LGBT families. According to the last Census, Black LGBT families are twice as likely as other groups in the LGBT community to be raising children and need the additional protections provided only by marriage like spousal health care benefits and family tax credits. The President's decision to stop defending DOMA lawsuits moves our nation away from embracing discriminatory policies and significantly closer to recognizing the fundamental liberty of all Americans. LGBT couples pay taxes, get their children ready to go to school in the morning, help them do their homework, and tuck them into bed at night. They have a right to provide the same protections for their families that every other couple has. NBJC thanks President Obama, an exemplary family man, for being an unrelenting supporter of the LGBT community and our families, and for acknowledging that a shared desire to love and protect our children is something we all have in common.