February 23, 2011
Administration Drops Defense of Discriminatory DOMA Law
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.