President Obama reiterated his opposition to the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act during an “Open for Questions” roundtable at the White House this morning, but said he does not know if the courts will strike down the measure. Responding to a query about the struggles faced by binational gay and lesbian couples, Obama stressed that his administration is no longer defending the law and predicted that the courts will decide the fate of the policy “fairly soon.” “Administratively, we can’t ignore the law,” he explained, but “even if we enforce it, we don’t support it, we think it’s unconstitutional”:
OBAMA: Once that law is struck down — and I don’t know what the ruling will be — then addressing these binational issues could flow from that decision potentially. I can’t comment on where the case is going to go. I can only say what I believe and that is that DOMA doesn’t make sense, it’s unfair. I don’t think that it meets the demands of our Constitution… I’ve also said that I’m also supportive of Congress repealing DOMA on its own and not waiting for the courts. The likelihood of us being able to get the House of representatives for DOMA repeal are very low at this point. So truthfully, the recourse to the courts is probably going to be the best approach.
DOMA — which prevents the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages — denies gays and lesbians many federal rights and protections and prohibits couples who are legally married in one of the six states (and DC) from petitioning the government for the same immigration benefits that are afforded to separate-sex relationships.
Obama announced that he would no longer defend the law in February, leaving House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to argue that the law is constitutional in court. The legal team that Boehner and the Republicans hired has since come under harsh criticism for arguing that homosexuality is a choice, misrepresenting research, and relying on such experts as ex-gay advocate George Rekers and the National Organization for Marriage’s Maggie Gallagher. On Monday, six House Democrats renewed their request with Boehner “for a briefing on his defense of the anti-gay law in court.”
Meanwhile, the legislative effort to repeal DOMA attracted its first Republican co-sponsor in the House last week and now has 125 supporters in the House and 29 in the Senate.