President Obama's administration filed a legal brief defending the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in a court case seeking to overturn it. In effect the administration has come out defending the constitutionality of measures that give a privileged place in society to traditional opposite sex marriage.
John Aravosis has analyzed the brief that was filed late last week:
"We just got the brief from reader Lavi Soloway. It's pretty despicable, and gratuitously homophobic. It reads as if it were written by one of George Bush's top political appointees. I cannot state strongly enough how damaging this brief is to us. Obama didn't just argue a technicality about the case, he argued that DOMA is reasonable. That DOMA is constitutional. That DOMA wasn't motivated by any anti-gay animus. He argued why our Supreme Court victories in Roemer and Lawrence shouldn't be interpreted to give us rights in any other area (which hurts us in countless other cases and battles). He argued that DOMA doesn't discriminate against us because it also discriminates about straight unmarried couples (ignoring the fact that they can get married and we can't).
He actually argued that the courts shouldn't consider Loving v. Virginia, the miscegenation case in which the Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to ban interracial marriages, when looking at gay civil rights cases. He told the court, in essence, that blacks deserve more civil rights than gays, that our civil rights are not on the same level.
And before Obama claims he didn't have a choice, he had a choice. Bush, Reagan and Clinton all filed briefs in court opposing current federal law as being unconstitutional (we'll be posting more about that later). Obama could have done the same. But instead he chose to defend DOMA, denigrate our civil rights, go back on his promises, and contradict his own statements that DOMA was 'abhorrent.' Folks, Obama's lawyers are even trying to diminish the impact of Roemer and Lawrence, our only two big Supreme Court victories. Obama is quite literally destroying our civil rights gains with this brief. He's taking us down for his own benefit."
Read the full article here.
There's more information about the possible economic impact that the brief warns about in an article by Conor Clarke.
In short Clark dismisses these claims:
Does DOMA really preserve "scarce government resources"? Would repealing it really "obligate federal taxpayers" to subsidize gay marriage? No. This is factually incorrect.
At least, it is factually incorrect according to the federal government itself. Five years ago the Congressional Budget Office did an analysis (pdf) of the potential budgetary effects of recognizing same-sex marriages. (The CBO is a truly wonderful place.) That analysis concluded:The potential effects on the federal budget of recognizing same-sex marriages are numerous. [...] In some cases, recognizing same sex marriages would increase outlays and revenues; in other cases, it would have the opposite effect. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that on net, those impacts would improve the budget's bottom line to a small extent: by less than $1 billion in each of the next 10 years (CBO's usual estimating period). That result assumes that same-sex marriages are legalized in all 50 states and recognized by the federal government.
Bishop Gene Robinson, quoted last week before the news of the Administration's filing, was already warning that patience in the GLBT community is "wearing thin".