This is big news. Attorney General Eric Holder announced today that the U.S. Government will no longer defend that damnable "Defense of Marriage" Act in court:
"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, classifications 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 Congress 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 cases of Pedersen v. OPM and Windsor v. United States will still continue, and their futures are quite uncertain. DOMA is still the law of the land, but clearly the clock is ticking. We may be a long way from seeing it swept into the dustbin of history along with NOM, FRC, and the other hate groups that trade in fear and ignorance of gays. However, this is a significant day, not least because the President of the United States has recognized that championing our issues can be politically advantageous. We may have crossed a threshold so that gay rights issues are a positive for Democrats and an embarrassment for the GOP. It's the Republicans who were put on the offensive today.
Also on this day, Prop 8 opponents asked the California Supreme Court to drop the stay on allowing gays to marry in the Golden State. California Senator Feinstein vowed to introduce a bill to repeal DOMA. Governor Abercrombie signed Hawaii's new civil unions bill, giving many new legal rights to gay couples in the Aloha State. Finally, the Maryland Senate gave initial approval to a marriage equality bill. All that was just today! What's up for tomorrow?!?