Obama's Justice Dept. Expected to Defend Against Anti-Gay Defense of Marriage Act
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The gay rights law group that convinced a federal district court judge Thursday to strike down a federal ban on gay marriage has told the New York Times they " fully expect" the Justice Department to appeal the decision -- a move that could shatter Obama's image in the gay community and cost his party millions of dollars in donations from gay donors.
"Lawyers on various sides of the issue said it was a certainty that the government will appeal and likely that the cases will reach the Supreme Court," Politico added Friday.
Such an appeal would be filed by the Obama-appointed US Attorney Carmen Milagros Ortiz, who was confirmed last November by the Senate.
In an email Friday, a White House spokesperson told Raw Story, "This is a question for the Justice Department."
"The only comment I have is the Department is reviewing the decision," Tracy Schmaler, a Justice Department spokesperson, told Raw Story shortly after.
Evan Wolfson, director of the gay rights group Freedom to Marry, said he doesn't know what the Justice Department will do, but hopes that if they appeal, they will couch their filing carefully.
"I think we're going to have to see what the Justice Department decides," Wolfson said. "I do hope that, if there is an appeal, that at a minimum the administration will agree that the appellate court should apply a presumption of unconstitutionality -- which in legal terms is called heightened scrutiny -- to this law that they concede is discriminatory."
"My message [to Obama] would be: Do the right thing," Wolfson added. "You agree this law is discriminatory. A highly respected conservative Republican-appointed judge has now said it's unconstitutional. Stop enforcing this unfair and discriminatory law that harms families and helps no one."
Woman who won Massachusetts marriage case expresses disappointment
Hillary Goodridge, one of seven couples that sued -- and won -- gay marriage rights in Massachusetts, expressed disappointment in a Friday morning phone call.
“I would find it very disheartening that they would choose that course of action," Goodridge told Raw Story. "I want to see the president and his administration committed to full marriage equality.”
On Thursday, Boston US District Court Judge Joseph Tauro struck down the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act," declaring it unconstitutional and asserting that gay and lesbian couples deserve the same federal benefits as straight couples.
Should the Justice Department decided to appeal the ruling, the political implications would likely be extreme. If they decide not to appeal the ruling, which would effectively mean that President Obama does not believe the federal government has a right to ban gay marriage, Republicans will have another weapon in their political arsenal during their fall House and Senate campaigns.
An appeal filed by an Obama-appointed US Attorney will enrage gay rights groups and their allies, who are already frustrated with what they see as inaction on Obama's behalf in not ending a federal law which forces the Pentagon to fire anyone who admits publicly that they are gay.
Congress recently voted to give the military the authority to end the practice. The military, however, says it is still "studying" the implications of allowing gays to serve. Obama lauded Congress' move, saying, "Our military is made up of the best and bravest men and women in our nation, and my greatest honor is leading them as Commander-in-Chief. This legislation will help make our Armed Forces even stronger and more inclusive by allowing gay and lesbian soldiers to serve honestly and with integrity."