The United States bishops have called the Obama Administration’s decision to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act against legal challenges “an abdication of the responsibility of the Executive Branch to carry out its constitutional obligation . . .”
In a brief statement issued from the USCCB Office of General Counsel, the bishops added, “It is also a grave affront to the millions of Americans who both reject unjust discrimination and affirm the unique and inestimable value of marriage as between one man and one woman.”
The Defense of Marriage Act defines marriage for federal purposes as the union of one man and one woman. Morever, no state must recognize a same-sex marriage from another state. As the bishops note in their statement, the law was passed 15 years ago by a Republican Congress and signed by a Democratic president.
In his initial statement, Attorney General Eric Holder said that “the President has concluded that given a number of factors . . . classifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to a more heightened standard of scrutiny. 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.”
Catholic News Service reported the response of the National Organization for Marriage, which has called on Congress to “get lawyers in the courtroom who actually want to defend the law, and not please their powerful political special interests.”
The Attorney General does note that President Obama has said the Executive Branch will continue to enforce the law until it is struck down.