The Obama administration on Saturday
reiterated that it believes the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is
unconstitutional and fueled by prejudice.
DOMA is the 1996 law which forbids
federal agencies from recognizing the legal marriages of gay and
Last year, President Obama instructed
the Department of Justice to no longer defend the law in court.
Speaking Saturday at the White House
LGBT Conference on Families at Burroughs Community School in
Minneapolis, Minnesota, Stuart F. Delery, acting assistant attorney
general for the civil division of the Justice Department, discussed
the department's reasons for the change.
“The president and the attorney
general concluded that laws that treat people differently based on
their sexual orientation, like laws that make classifications based
on gender or race, are inherently suspect – and therefore must meet
a higher burden to be found valid,” Delery said.
“There is no question that DOMA
targets same-sex couples and treats people differently based on their
sexual orientation – that it was motivated in significant part by
prejudice towards, moral disapproval of, and stereotype-based
thinking about, gay and lesbian people and their intimate and family
“One justification that Congress gave
for Section 3 back in 1996 was that it would promote procreation and
'responsible child rearing.'”
“But there is no evidence that
same-sex couples are anything other than fully capable of responsible
parenting and child rearing,” he said.
Delery added that the president
supports efforts to repeal the law. However, passage of the Respect
for Marriage Act in the Republican-controlled House seems unlikely.