U.S. brief defends DOMA, but urges repeal

Aug. 17, 2009 at 5:47 PM
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 17 (UPI) -- The U.S. Justice Department filed a brief in a suit challenging the Defense of Marriage Act, with the administration going on record as favoring repeal.

The Justice Department brief, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, also rejected arguments put forward by conservative groups on the importance of marriage for child-rearing as a justification for the act's ban on federal recognition of same-sex unions, Politico reported.

"Today, the Department of Justice has filed a response to a legal challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, as it traditionally does when acts of Congress are challenged," President Barack Obama said in a statement. "This brief makes clear, however, that my administration believes that the act is discriminatory and should be repealed by Congress. I have long held that DOMA prevents (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual) couples from being granted equal rights and benefits."

While the administration and Congress work to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, Obama said, his administration would "continue to examine and implement measures that will help extend rights and benefits to LGBT couples under existing law."

The brief said the Obama administration does not support the Defense of Marriage Act "as a matter of policy, believes that it is discriminatory, and supports its repeal," Justice Department attorney Scott Simpson wrote in the brief.

"Consistent with the rule of law, however, the Department of Justice has long followed the practice of defending federal statutes as long as reasonable arguments can be made in support of their constitutionality, even if the department disagrees with a particular statute as a policy matter, as it does here," Simpson wrote.

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