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BY DERON DALTON
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President Obama says the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional -- and the Justice Department will no longer defend it.
The law -- known as DOMA -- passed in 1996, and defines marriage as between a man and a woman
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says Mr. Obama believes DOMA violates equal protection principles of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.
“According to Holder, President Obama decided that classifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to a more heightened standard of scrutiny and that key parts of the law do not meet that standard and are unconstitutional.”
Fox News’ Megyn Kelly is shocked at the news.
“They’re no longer going to be enforcing this federal law that’s on the books, passed by Congress, signed by President Clinton, and still very much a law. This is stunning!”
And the chief counsel of the Pat Robertson-founded American Center for Law and Justice tells the network -- President Obama doesn’t have to make decrees against defending a law.
“The idea that the President of the United States can order the Department of Justice to not defend a law, duly passed by Congress and signed by then President Clinton -- should send shock-waves through anybody that’s concerned with civil rights and civil liberties.
While the Justice Department won’t go after states that have already barred same sex marriage - The Volokh Conspiracy’s Dale Carpenter says the president’s announcement puts additional pressure on them.
"Since marriage between two people of the same sex … discriminates against gays and lesbians and cannot survive heightened scrutiny, it follows that the laws of 45 states barring gay marriage are unconstitutional.”
President Obama has said his personal position on same sex marriage is “evolving.” Asked whether Wednesday’s announcement means the president is for gay marriage, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney says Mr. Obama’s still grappling with that -- and the legal distinction is separate from the President’s personal views.
The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent says - this is at least a step
“Obviously ... Obama doesn't believe it's politically safe enough (yet) to declare full support for gay marriage. But the overall dynamic is certainly encouraging. The arc of history is bending -- albeit slowly -- in the right direction.”
But the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Jay Bookman says that President Obama’s decision can still be challenged.
“It’s still law, and despite concerns about constitutionality, the Obama administration will still honor it. Other parties, including members of Congress, are also still free to defend the law from constitutional challenges already underway in several federal court jurisdictions.”
Shortly after the announcement from the Obama administration - California Democratic Senator
Dianne Feinstein said she planned to introduce a bill to repeal DOMA completely.
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