Even as the fallout from the Prop 8 ruling is still getting sorted, another legal proceeding dealing with a major marriage protection law is ongoing. But barely. Whereas the defenders of California's Marriage Amendment filed a prompt appeal and yesterday won a stay on San Francisco Federal District Judge Vaughn Walker's deplorable decision at least until the end of the year (San Francisco Chronicle), the Obama Justice Department's weak and meek defense of the federal Defense of Marriage Act appears to have "thrown the match" and it says it is not certain whether it will appeal a recent Massachusetts Federal District Court's decision that ruled DOMA unconstitutional. As Chuck Donovan writes at The Heritage Foundation's The Foundry blog:
Echoing some of the most notorious boxing matches in the history of the ring, the Obama-Kagan Justice Department engaged in what even one supporter of same-sex marriage, the distinguished constitutional law scholar Richard Epstein, labeled "almost like collusive litigation," where the adversaries in a case are secretly on the same side.
The collusion boils down to this: attorneys in the Obama Justice Department, who have sworn that they will "well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office" in which they serve, abandoned not one but all four of the bases for DOMA asserted by Congress. "Congress" in this instance was no small minority cobbled together at the last instant for legislation it scarcely debated, but a bipartisan majority that encompassed 85 percent of both houses of Congress, joined by a Democratic president (Bill Clinton) who had access to comprehensive reports that amplified the many grounds for DOMA.
The Justice Department’s concessions were crucial to the outcome in the case. As Judge Joseph Tauro noted, he felt bound to address the detailed justifications Congress provided for DOMA only briefly, because, "For the purposes of this litigation, the government has disavowed Congress’s stated justifications for the statute[.]"
As Family Research Council President Tony Perkins (see FRC Blog) wrote yesterday:
The Defense of Marriage Act merely defines marriage — for federal purposes — as being between one man and one woman, and protects states from having to change their state definitions. Not surprisingly, a liberal court in Massachusetts — after a weak defense from the Obama Justice Department — ruled DOMA unconstitutional. Amazingly, the federal government appears to be dragging its feet as they contemplate whether or not to EVEN APPEAL the decision! If the Department of Justice does not appeal, it is unlikely outside defenders of marriage will even be allowed to defend marriage in court.
The Department of Justice is supposed to vigorously defend statutes passed by Congress, not to roll over to appease President Obama's political base.
So, FRC Action has started a nationwide petition to hold the Justice Department accountable and to do its job — appeal and aggressively defend the law of the land. Please take time to sign the petition (click here to sign) and send a clear message to the Obama administration. He has said he believes marriage is between one man and one woman (ABCNews.com). It's time he proves it with a vigorous defense of federal law he is sworn to uphold.