Defense of Marriage Act Deemed Indefensible

On February 23, 2011 Attorney General Eric Holder, at the direction of President Obama, reached a conclusion to stop legal defense of the Defense of Marriage Act’s (DOMA) third section, according to the United Stated Department of Justice.  The Act’s third section legally defined a marriage as a “legal union between one man and one woman.”  The Obama administration, however, has stated that it intends to enforce the law up to the point when Congress either formally repeals it, or the courts render “a definitive verdict against the law’s constitutionality,” according to Attorney General Holder.

Massachusetts declared this Act unconstitutional in 2008 and has been a leader in same-sex marriage rights for in-state and out-of-state couples.  Even so, there was no protection for same-sex marriage in the federal system or in other states that have not legalized same sex marriage.

Even with the federal repeal of the DOMA, section 3, same sex marriages in Massachusetts will still not be recognized at the federal level. This is only the first step in many.  But as Mary Bonauto, civil rights projector director for New England-based Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) said, “it is extremely significant that the Department of Justice recognizes what we’ve been saying for years in our litigation.”

Related article about cohabitation agreements here.