Main | Wednesday, February 23, 2011

DOMA Reactions

Human Rights Campaign
“This is a monumental decision for the thousands of same-sex couples and their families who want nothing more than the same rights and dignity afforded to other married couples,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “As the President has stated previously, DOMA unfairly discriminates against Americans and we applaud him for fulfilling his oath to defend critical constitutional principles.” Under federal law, the Department of Justice must report to Congress its intent not to defend the statute and it is likely that anti-LGBT leaders in Congress will take up its defense. “Congressional leaders must not waste another taxpayer dollar defending this patently unconstitutional law,” said Solmonese. “The federal government has no business picking and choosing which legal marriages they want to recognize. Instead Congress should take this opportunity to wipe the stain of marriage discrimination from our laws.”
Freedom To Marry
"Freedom to Marry applauds the President and the Attorney General for acknowledging that sexual orientation discrimination has no place in American life and must be presumed unconstitutional, recognizing that discriminatory laws like so-called DOMA must be looked at with skeptical eyes, not rubber stamped. “The Administration today acknowledges that there is no legitimate reason for this discrimination and therefore it cannot be defended under the Constitution. This a momentous step forward toward Freedom to Marry's goal of ending federal marriage discrimination and fully protecting all loving and committed couples.”
People For The American Way
“In the 15 years since DOMA was made law, it has hurt untold numbers of gay and lesbian Americans, depriving them of the rights to enjoy the full benefits of marriage and forcing them to live as second class citizens. The President has chosen to defend the Constitution of the United States over a discriminatory and clearly unconstitutional law. That decision should be commended. A discriminatory law like DOMA has no place in a country grounded in the values of freedom and equality.”
Sen. Kristen Gillibrand
“Sexual orientation discrimination has no place in American law. I commend the Obama administration for upholding this American value today by concluding this statute is unconstitutional. “The fact is that history is moving in a direction that ensures gay and lesbian couples are offered the same basic rights as everyone else – the right to get married, start a family and receive the full benefits that come with it, and be counted the same as everyone else. I look forward to the day when New York and all states accept this basic principle of fairness. “The time for Congress to repeal DOMA is now, and I will work hard to make sure marriage equality becomes a reality for all.”
Marriage Equality USA
"This is a watershed moment as the President of the United States and the Attorney General have together taken a powerful stand against this unjust law. We are overjoyed that President Obama has taken concrete measures to fulfill on his pledge to end DOMA. The momentum is building to stop using taxpayers’ money to enforce laws that serve only to deny Gay Americans equality under the law. The President and Attorney General have followed the example of California Governors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown and State Attorney Generals Bill Lockyer and Kamila Harris who have refused to defend Proposition 8 as constitutional. President Obama will be remembered as standing on the right side of history and for ensuring that the enduring American principle of equality under the law is finally extended to include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans."
Lambda Legal
"We are proud of our part in the precedent setting cases leading to today's announcement. Both Romer v. Evans and Lawrence v. Texas are landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases litigated by Lambda Legal that established among other things that the equal protection guarantee in the federal Constitutional applies to gay people. The Attorney General expressly relied on these cases in his letter to Congress explaining why laws discriminating against people based on their sexual orientation are suspect and that the so-called DOMA is unconstitutional. "While the so-called DOMA is very clearly crumbling it is not yet gone. The executive branch will continue to enforce it until it is repealed by Congress or struck down by the courts. We will continue our efforts to dismantle this law, along with all other laws that discriminate based on sexual orientation. Today's action by the President and the Department of Justice hastens the day when those laws will no longer stain our nation."
National Gay & Lesbian Task Force
"The decision by the Obama administration not to defend the discriminatory, so-called 'Defense of Marriage Act' is a tremendous step toward recognizing our common humanity and ending an egregious injustice against thousands of loving, committed couples who simply want the protections, rights and responsibilities afforded other married couples. We thank the Obama administration for having the integrity to recognize that this law should not be defended in court. Discrimination has no place in our society, and DOMA has only served to belittle our country's deeply held values of freedom and fairness. It's time to end DOMA once and for all."
Equality Matters
“This is a very significant and welcomed development. I commend the President on his bold leadership. It means that the discriminatory and harmful Defense of Marriage Act is on its last legs. The federal government is one big step closer to providing equal rights and responsibilities to millions of loving and legally married same-sex couples. This is an important moment in the struggle for full equality and the President deserves a lot of credit.”
CA Assembly Speaker John Perez
“This is a profound decision by President Obama. He has put the Justice Department on record as calling into question the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, and has struck a significant blow to those who mask their objection to marriage equality as a defense of the constitution. I am grateful for the bold and visionary leadership the President showed today.”
Center For American Progress
“DOMA is a discriminatory law that targets gay men and women simply because of their sexual orientation. It serves no purpose but to advance discrimination. DOMA should be repealed, and if Congress fails to do so, I hope to see it struck down by the courts in the months ahead. Federal law requires the attorney general to inform Congress of its intent not to defend the law. Unfortunately, antigay leaders in Congress will likely take up DOMA’s defense. We urge them to think twice about this decision and to not tether themselves to a patently discriminatory law that undermines our nation’s fundamental principle of equality. We thank President Obama and Attorney General Holder for their leadership on this issue, and their commitment to equality for all Americans.”
American Foundation for Equal Rights
Today’s decision by the federal government underscores the unconstitutionality of gay marriage bans in states across the country, and further supports the August 2010 ruling by the US District Court in Perry v. Schwarzenegger that California’s ban on marriages for gay and lesbian couples is unconstitutional. “This is a huge victory for gay and lesbian couples and removes any doubt that the freedom to marry is a constitutional right for all Americans,” said Chad Griffin, AFER Board President. “The U.S. District Court has already ruled marriage to be a right for all Californians, and now the federal government has sent a clear message that it too sees the freedom to marry as a fundamental constitutional right.”
It is extraordinarily significant that the Dept. of Justice recognizes what we have been saying for years in our litigation. Laws that distinguish between people based on sexual orientation are more likely to reflect prejudice against gay people than good public policy. Discrimination based on sexual orientation needs to be justified by the government with exceptionally good reasons rather than being assumed to be permissible. The Attorney General concedes that DOMA fails this test. This is a welcome acknowledgment but is not the end of GLAD’s DOMA litigation. Ultimately, the courts will decide the standard of review. Moreover, the Attorney General notified Congress that it will not defend the Second Circuit cases and either chamber may step in and appoint counsel to defend DOMA. We are prepared to address head on whatever arguments Congress may make, and bring to an end the harms DOMA imposes on our plaintiff couples and surviving spouses in the litigation and others like them.
NY Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell
"The decision to stop defending this egregious, unconstitutional statute is an exceedingly important step in making Marriage Equality a reality for all Americans. I applaud President Obama and Attorney General Holder for taking a stand on the issue and recognizing the truly indefensible nature of the inaptly named ‘Defense of Marriage Act.' Without leadership at the highest levels, our country cannot, and will not, move forward on issues so central to what it means to be an American. I look forward to the day when each American is able to marry the individual he or she loves and everyone enjoys the full rights to which every citizen is entitled."
"The president did the right thing and just propelled gay rights into the 21st century, where it belongs. Our government finally recognizes what we knew 14 years ago — that the so-called 'Defense of Marriage Act' is a gross violation of the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection before the law. DOMA betrays core American values of fairness, justice and dignity for all, and has no place in America. Our Constitution promises that the government will treat everyone equally. Today's announcement is a recognition that gay people, too, are promised equal treatment under the law. Now it is only a matter of time before LGBT people in the United States will finally have full equality in our society."
Massachusetts AG Martha Coakley
“I am very pleased that the Department of Justice and President Obama have determined that the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. This is a position that we have held and argued since we filed our lawsuit in July 2009. We brought our case based on a firm conviction that to achieve equality for all married couples in Massachusetts, we need to ensure that all citizens enjoy the same rights and protections under the Constitution. Today’s decision is another important victory for the civil rights of same-sex couples and their families, as it now means that DOMA has been declared discriminatory and unconstitutional by a federal judge, the Department of Justice, and the President of the United States. A letter sent today from Attorney General Eric Holder informed Congress that it has the ability to continue to defend these suits. Exactly what that means for our litigation pending in the First Circuit Court will become clear in the next few days.”
More reactions will be posted as they arrive...

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