I’m in the midst of a busy few days at work, folks, but figured you might be interested in some of the commentary coming across my (virtual) desk in response to the news that the Attorney General will (in the words of law journalist Jeffrey Toobin) “cease defending the constitutionality of Section Two of the Defense of Marriage Act.”
Hanna and I aren’t yet married, but we’ve talked about the possibility. One of the major practical factors in our decision is that while we’re lucky enough to live in a state (Massachusetts) that offers marriage as an option for both other-sex and same-sex partners, none of the legal or economic benefits we’d gain by marrying under current law would extend to the federal level, or be guaranteed to cross state boundaries. Movement on the DOMA front, therefore, seems like a small yet hopeful ray of sunshine on the horizon of expanding relationship recognition beyond heterosexual couples.
Without further ado, I turn the floor over to folks much more learned than I in the legal battle for queer rights than I:
Jeffrey Toobin @ The New Yorker News Desk | Obama’s Gay Marriage Test
What Holder is saying here is that the courts should apply the same level of scrutiny to laws about gay people as they do to laws about women. Under the heightened-scrutiny test, Holder concludes, there is no justification for DOMA, so it is unconstitutional. (DOMA says that the federal government will not treat gay people who are legally married in their states as married people under federal law. So a married same-sex couple in Massachusetts is not treated as married under, for example, the Internal Revenue Code.)
Dahlia Lithwick @ Slate | Indefensible
The real surprise on Wednesday wasn’t that the Obama administration decided it could no longer legally defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which mandates that the federal government not recognize same-sex marriages and stipulates that states need not recognize same-sex marriages from other states. It’s that it took so long to get here. Recall that presidential candidate Barack Obama pledged to repeal the law, which he had called “abhorrent,” in 2007. What needed to be bridged over the past two years was the distance between the president’s personal views and his duty to defend a congressional statute.
Nancy Polikoff @ Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage | Obama administration will no longer defend section 3 of DOMA … now what?
Nothing will change right away. The administration will continue to enforce DOMA as written. And it will do everything possible to facilitate the ability of Members of Congress to enter the litigation for the purpose of defending the statute. I am certain they will do so. The administration will wait until a final judicial ruling in the cases (or repeal by Congress) to change its approach to married same-sex couples.
…There will be much rejoicing today. From a gay civil rights perspective there’s much to be happy about. But economic justice and fair family policies are another matter, and I won’t throw a victory party til we have those.
There’s the best of what I have so far … feel free to share other good commentary in comments or add your own thoughts.