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The friendly opponents of same-sex marriage

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Sep 19, 2009

 Just a month ago, writing in this space, I expressed concern that the US Justice Department, under President Obama, was not likely to mount a vigorous case to support the Defense of Marriage Act against a court challenge from homosexual activists. It's not that the Justice Department would drop the case, I explained; they're required to defend an existing federal statue. But I thought the defense might be lackluster, unimaginative, predictable:

I don't mean to suggest that the Justice Department will deliberately undermine the defense of DOMA. But I doubt that the Obama appointees at the top ranks of the Justice Department regard this case as their top priority. They'll do their duty... but no more. 

Well, the Justice Department has weighed in, and here are the results:

Justice Department lawyers are reluctantly defending a law that bars the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages,...

Notice that key word: reluctantly.

Government attorneys said in a brief filed yesterday in US District Court that the administration believes the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which bars the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages, is discriminatory and wants it repealed.

Not exactly a ringing defense, is it?

So does the Justice Department's argument do any damage to the gay activists' case for overturning the law? Let their top lawyer answer that question:

“There’s nothing in the brief that we were unprepared to deal with, and there’s nothing in the government’s brief that addresses the fact the DOMA is the only exception in a long history of the federal government’s deferral to the states’ determination of who is married.’’  

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