The Department of Justice will no longer defend Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act in court, according to a statement released Wednesday signed by Attorney General Eric Holder.
According to the statement, President Barack Obama has decided that Section 3, the frequently challenged law that states the federal government must consider marriage a legal union between one man and one woman, is unconstitutional.
“The department has a longstanding practice of defending the constitutionality of duly enacted statutes if reasonable arguments can be made in their defense,” the statement says. “At the same time, the department in the past has declined to defend statutes despite the availability of professionally responsible arguments, in part because — as here — the department does not consider every such argument to be a ‘reasonable’ one. Moreover, the department has declined to defend a statute in cases, like this one, where the President has concluded that the statute is unconstitutional.”
Holder also writes that he has “informed members of Congress of this decision, so members who wish to defend the statute may pursue that option.”
UPDATE: White House Press Secretary Jay Carney confirms that the U.S. will remain involved in the cases so the courts can make a final decision on DOMA. He also says that enforcement of the law will continue.
UPDATE 2: Carney says that the Justice Department will still offer assistance to others challenging DOMA and that President Obama is “grappling with the issue” of gay marriage on a personal level.
Please check back here for updates as they become available.