June 12, 2009
Posted by: Andoni
ADDENDUM AT END
In case you haven't heard, the Obama Justice Department has decided to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in federal court. You can read the brief in Smelt v The United States of America here (at the bottom) along with some reactions here. A statement from some of the major LGBT organizations are here.
Reading the arguments the DOJ makes to defend DOMA really makes me angry and I wonder if this is what President Obama or the higher ups in the White House really think. It's the same arguments the Republicans and religious right have been making for years --- with even a few new ridiculous ones thrown in.
The only thing I can conclude is that we've been thrown overboard by the Obama administration or by presenting such ridiculous arguments, this is a really clever way to throw the case.
For instance they argue that restricting rights is a legitimate action of the federal government because it can save the federal government money. What federal court accepts the principle that you can deny rights because there's not enough money to administer them. By that reasoning we can close down polling places in poor neighborhoods or Democratic neighborhoods and say we don't have enough money to keep those places open. Lack of money should never be a reason to deny equal rights.
Or the argument that federal tax money can't be collected from people in states that do not recognize same sex marriage going to benefit sames sex married couples in states that do. This is bullshit. A citizen or state or any other entity cannot specify or prevent federal dollars from being sent to a specific place or for a specific designation. If citizens could specify how and where their federal tax dollars could be used, a lot of people would request that their money not be spent on war or the pentagon or tobacco.
The people in the Justice Department writing this brief made so many discredited and ridiculous arguments for DOMA, I hope these were really intended to help the court see the fallacy of DOMA to persuade the court to strike it down. Otherwise my only other conclusion is that the Obama White House has thrown us overboard.
ADDENDUM: Harvard constitutional law exprert, Prof. Lawrence Tribe, offers the Advocate another plausible reason for the DOJ filing this lawsuit. Of all the federal lawsuits challenging DOMA, this is the worst one and has the least probability of succeeding. It has a good chance of going to the Supreme Court and losing, thus cementing DOMA consitutionally in place for a long time. The DOJ has merely asked that this lawsuit be dismissed, then made a laundry list of every single argument ever made for DOMA, hoping that one would stick and the case would be thrown out. Tribe seems to think that the GLAD case (you know that group that has been so successful in the New England states) is the best challenge to DOMA out there, but that one (timing wise) is behind this one, so this one had better not reach the Supreme Court before the GLAD case. The GLAD case was crafted to appeal to five or more justices on bases that we are fairly certain they agree with. If GLAD wins, that will slice DOMA open and some of pieces holding it together will fall apart, making DOMA much more vulnerable for the next lawsuit. The idea is to put a hole in DOMA first, then go in for the kill later. Most experts think the Smelt challenge (above) doesn't have a chance of touching DOMA at the Supreme Court level, and would only serve to cement it in place for years (think Bowers) if they lose. That's why it has to be moved out of the way by having it dismissed.
So maybe the DOJ is doing its job (defending the United States laws) and helping the marriage equality cause both at the same time. I mean, if this case doesn't have a chance at the Supreme Court, knock it off now.
It still hurts to read all those debunked (and even pre-Lawrence) laundry list of arguments being used against us. But I guess if you are trying to get a case thrown out, you use everything you have, hoping that one will stick.
I would feel much better if Obama would simply let us in on what his plan and timeline are to achieve LGBT equality. Since June is Pride month, now would be a good time to tell.
So if any reporters are reading this, the question for Press Secretary Gibbs is, "Can you share with us what is the president's plan to achieve his campaign promise of gay and lesbian equality and what is the timeline for that plan?"
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