The Obama administration filed a legal brief Friday with the Justice Department to urge the Supreme Court to declare unconstitutional Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act — which bars recognition of same-sex marriages for purposes of federal benefits such as income taxes or federal employee benefits.
The administration says there are more than 1,000 federal statues and programs that come into play depending on a person's marital status. The brief adds that singling out legally married same-sex couples is "a harsh form of discrimination that bears no relation to their ability to contribute to society."
The filing is consistent with President Obama's "evolving" stance on gay marriage. The president came out in support of marriage equality last spring, and also addressed the issue during his Second Inaugural address:
Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law — for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.
However, Obama faces challenge from Congress that filed its own brief through a Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG), urging the court to let voters settle the gay marriage issue through the ballot box.
But the administration's brief disputes that position, citing the long history of discrimination gays and lesbians have faced; that sexual orientation bears no relation to the ability to contribute to society; and that sexual orientation is a core part of identity with broad scientific evidence that it is not a voluntary choice:
Fourth, gay and lesbian people are a minority group with limited political power. Although some of the harshest and most overt forms of discrimination against gay and lesbian people have receded, that progress has hardly been uniform (either temporally or geographically), and has in significant respects been the result of judicial enforcement of the Constitution, not political action.