The Obama administration filed two briefs this week calling for the Supreme Court to overturn California’s Proposition 8 as well as the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Prop 8 is a constitutional ban that outlaws same-sex marriages, and DOMA is a federal statute that claims that a legal marriage is seen only between a man and a woman.
These actions are indicative of Obama’s campaign of promoting marriage equality. Obama’s bold initiative to not defend a federal law shows his dedication to gay rights, however SCOTUS may not share the same sentiments and prevent a further progression in marriage equality.
Obama’s Justice Department released the brief on DOMA on the grounds that it denies same sex couples the constitutional right to equal protection under the 14th amendment. In particular, they shed light on the current case of California’s Proposition 8. This month SCOTUS will be deliberating the case of Hollingsworth v. Perry, which challenges California’s same-sex marriage ban.
Attorney General Eric Holder spoke out about the actions taken by the briefs. He urged SCOTUS to be more proactive when defining marriage.
“The government seeks to vindicate the defining constitutional ideal of equal treatment under the law. Throughout history, we have seen the unjust consequences of decisions and policies rooted in discrimination,” Holder said.
President Obama has made marriage equality a strong component of his second term. In his second inaugural address, Obama made it clear that he would continue his efforts to ensure equal protection for all Americans, despite their sexual orientation.
“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” he said.
Now the Obama administration has taken measures to actively challenge the high court to get rid of the controversial federal law DOMA. DOMA was initially introduced to Congress in 1966, but was not signed into law until 1996 under President Bill Clinton. Since the law’s enactment, different states have adopted different definitions of marriage, which have required their own respective legislative measures. However the constitutionality of DOMA is up for questioning, and Obama is willing to take bold initiatives to get the legislation abolished.
An interesting twist present itself with the DOMA situation. President Obama is going against the expected duties of the executive, in that the position requires to execute and protect the laws of the U.S. It is clear that Obama is not defending DOMA even though it is a federal law. His actions illustrate a call to redefine the modern presidency.
Obama will also be refuting actions taken by former President Bill Clinton, who has since become a close friend. SCOTUS will be reviewing a series of cases that challenge both DOMA and Proposition 8. However, based on the divided ideology of the panel, a decision could lean in either direction, or delay of action is plausible as well.