HRC Blog

PolitiFact’s “Pants on Fire” Regarding DOMA Assessment

Repeal DOMA; Defense of Marriage Act; Same-sex marriage; Marriage equality​Post submitted by Charlie Joughin, HRC Press Secretary

PolitiFact is a project of the Tampa Bay Times that fact-checks politicians’ statements and rates the accuracy on their Truth-O-Meter as being True, Mostly True, Half True, Mostly False and False.  The most ridiculous falsehoods get their lowest rating, Pants on Fire.

Well today, HRC is giving PolitiFact a “Pants on Fire” for their assessment of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) – the discriminatory law that forbids the federal government from recognizing legal marriages between gay and lesbian couples. 

As you may know, HRC recently called out Rep. Vern Buchanan for his misleading and inaccurate mailer to constituents that alleges President Obama is no longer enforcing DOMA.  The reality is DOMA is still very much enforced.  But PolitiFact chose to view this as an issue of semantics instead of substance, saying:

“If Buchanan had said that Obama would no longer ‘defend’ DOMA he’d be on safe ground, but he chose ‘enforce’ instead. The Obama administration is enforcing the law to some extent, such as forbidding joint tax returns or survivors’ benefits in Social Security for gay couples. Still, there’s clear evidence that the Obama administration is seeking to mitigate the law’s effects. We rate this claim Half True.”

The sad truth is DOMA continues to ruin lives every day.  Take Andrew Sorbo – a retired Connecticut teacher whose household income decreased a whopping 80% when his husband Colin passed away.  Because of DOMA, Andrew is denied access to Colin’s federal pension, off which the couple has survived for years. 

Or what about Frances Herbert and Takako Ueda, a legally married lesbian couple from Vermont?  Because of DOMA, Ueda – a native of Japan – can't get a green card despite being married to Herbert, even though a spouse in a heterosexual marriage would be able to do so.

DOMA is not “half true.”  It is a whole threat to Frances and Takako’s life together, and is the whole reason Andrew Sorbo had to sell his home after his husband died. 

And while we are incredibly grateful the Obama Administration no longer defends DOMA in court, the fact remains DOMA is still very much enforced in America. 

PolitiFact most certainly got it wrong on this one. 

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