Just when you thought President Obama couldn’t tick off conservatives anymore than he already has, he goes and orders the Justice Department to stop defending the constitutionality of the federal definition of marriage — which defines marriage for federal purposes as solely a union between a man and a woman.
The Department of Justices announced Wednesday that they will not defend the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) for at least two cases filed in the Second Circuit: Pedersen v. OPM and Windsor v. United States.
“The President has also concluded that Section 3 of DOMA, as applied to legally married same-sex couples, fails to meet that standard and is therefore unconstitutional,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement. “Given that conclusion, the President has instructed the Department not to defend the statute in such cases. I fully concur with the President’s determination…I will instruct Department attorneys to advise courts in other pending DOMA litigation of the President’s and my conclusions that a heightened standard should apply, that Section 3 is unconstitutional under that standard and that the Department will cease defense of Section 3.”
Marriage defenders across the country came out in force to express their displeasure at the administration’s decision. Right off the bat, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) took a page from John Paul Jones, declaring that the organization has “not yet begun to fight for marriage.”
“The Democrats are responding to their election loss with a series of extraordinary extra-constitutional end runs around democracy, whether it’s fleeing the state in Wisconsin and Indiana to prevent a vote, or unilaterally declaring homosexuals a protected class under our Constitution, as President Obama just did,” said Brian Brown, president of the NOM. “We call on the House to intervene to protect DOMA, and to tell the Obama administration they have to respect the limits on their power. This fight is not over, it has only begun!”
Concerned Women for America (CWA) CEO Penny Nance called the decision the president’s “most shameful move yet” and an insult to a majority of Americans.
“DOMA is the law of the land, whether he personally likes it or not. For him to circumvent the will of the American people, once again, to impose his latest personal fad into federal law is simply disgraceful,” Nance said. “Remember, just a few months ago he tried to sell the American public the idea that he supported the traditional definition of marriage, then a few weeks ago he said he ‘struggled’ with the idea, and now the mask finally comes off. He believes DOMA is unconstitutional and we are all supposed to go along with it.”
Nance called on Congress to intervene and insist the Justice Department stay the previous course.
“We simply cannot allow the Executive Branch in the person of the President or Attorney General to circumvent federal law purely on the basis of a president’s personal preference,” she said.
Andrea Lafferty, executive director of the Traditional Values Coalition, told The Daily Caller that Obama’s executive decree shows that the president is pro-gay marriage, despite his past rhetoric.
“This proves what we have been saying, that the president did not tell the truth when he said he did not believe in gay marriage. He does support homosexual marriage,” Lafferty said.
When pressed by reporters Wednesday to state where President Obama now stands on gay marriage, Press Secretary Jay Carney said it was an ongoing evolution.
“He’s grappling with the issue, but he — again, I want to make the distinction between his personal views, which he has discussed, and the legal issue, the legal decision that was made today,” said Carney
Though the administration says the president continues to struggle with the issue, some still believe President Obama’s mind is already made up on the matter — and that it will have national implications.
“On the one hand this is a truly shocking extra-constitutional power grab in declaring gay people are a protected class, and it’s also a defection of duty on the part of the President Obama,” said Maggie Gallagher, chairman of the NOM, “On the other hand, the Obama administration was throwing this case in court anyway. The good news is this now clears the way for the House to intervene and to get lawyers in the court room who actually want to defend the law, and not please their powerful political special interests.”
Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, lamented that Obama was putting political views ahead of the law.
“The Obama administration is making a tragic mistake in walking away from the defense of traditional marriage,” said Jordan in a statement. “A community is only as strong as its most basic unit, the family. Marriage is a cornerstone of the family. Whenever American voters have had a chance to weigh in on the issue, they have voted to define marriage as what marriage has always been.”
The president’s decision today seems to have brought out social conservatives’ claws.
“The President seems to think he is a king, that he can rule and reign and wave a wand to make something constitutional or not,” said Lafferty. “This was a duly enacted law, passed by the congress and signed into law by a president. Now he is just decreeing that it is unconstitutional.”
More than 50 percent of states have already put the traditional definition of marriage in their constitutions.