Saturday, October 31, 2009

Obama Defends DOMA…. Again - Lez Get Real

Obama Defends DOMA…. Again - Lez Get Real

10/31/09-by Paula BrooksDOJDOMA
While the Obama administration has repeatedly called the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) discriminatory and President Obama has vowed to work for its repeal, nevertheless the Obama Justice Department again defended the law in a court filing.

In response to a lawsuit by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha M. Coakley, the Justice Department argued yesterday in court papers that states allowing gay marriage can’t force the federal government to provide benefits to those couples.

The state of Massachusetts has challenged DOMA, saying it denies federal marriage benefits to same-sex couples that are nonetheless legally married under Massachusetts law. Around 16,000 same-sex couples married in Massachusetts are being unfairly denied federal benefits given to heterosexual couples, according to Coakley’s suit. Those benefits include federal income tax credits, employment benefits, retirement benefits, health insurance coverage and Social Security payments

Massachusetts officials also say the federal law requires them to disregard the legally valid same-sex marriages in their state in relation to carrying out federal Medicaid and Veterans’ benefits programs. Such a requirement, they say, violates state sovereignty and is unconstitutional.

“This administration does not support DOMA as a matter of policy, believes that it is discriminatory, and supports its repeal,” says yesterdays Justice Department brief.

Nevertheless, Obama’s DOJ says, it has “long followed the practice of defending federal statutes as long as reasonable arguments can be made in support of their constitutionality, even if the Department disagrees with a particular statute, as it does here.”

DOMA doesn’t regulate marriage, according to the administration, because they reason the states remain free to decide for themselves whether a same-sex couple can marry and how to spend state money on programs for married couples. But the DOJ brief also says Congress had a logical reason for restricting federal benefits to marriages between men and women.

“Congress may subsequently decide to extend federal benefits to same-sex marriages, and this Administration believes that Congress should do so. But its decision not to do so at this point is not irrational or unconstitutional,” the DOJ brief argues.

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