The gay blogosphere lit up like a
firecraker Friday on news the Obama administration was defending the
Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA) in a federal lawsuit.
The 1996 law was signed into law by
President Clinton (also angering gay groups). It allows states to
ignore legal gay marriages performed in other states and defines
marriage as a heterosexual union for federal agencies.
During the campaign Obama called the
law “abhorrent” and promised he would repeal the law.
“If elected, I would call on Congress
to enact legislation that would repeal DOMA and ensure that the over
1,100 federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the
basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil
unions and other legally recognized unions,” he told gay weekly The
While gay groups and bloggers were
angry with the Justice Department's defense of DOMA in a motion filed
late Thursday in Los Angeles, they were dismayed at its tone.
Prominent blogger John Arovosis hit
hard at the document in a blog post at AmericaBlog.com,
calling it “despicable, and gratuitously homophobic.”
“It reads as if it were written by
one of George Bush's top political appointees,” Arovosis said.
“Obama didn't just argue a technicality about the case, he argued
that DOMA is reasonable. That DOMA is constitutional. That DOMA
wasn't motivated by anti-gay animus.”
Human Rights Campaign, the nation's
largest gay rights advocate, also decried the effort. “Mr.
President, you have called DOMA 'abhorrent' and pledged to be a
fierce advocate for our community,” Joe Solmonese, the group's
president, said. “As we approach the 40th anniversary
of Stonewall, it is time for you to use your leadership to translate
these principles into meaningful action.”
Anti-Obama/pro-Clinton group People
United Means Action (PUMA) called Obama “the homophobe in chief.”
“Those gays and lesbians who worked
their tails off to get Obama elected are really starting to feel
despair about the level of contempt with which Obama clearly holds
the LGBT community and its uppity insistence on equal protection
under the Constitution. Sigh. Yup, we TOLD YOU this would happen,”
the group says in a blog post.
The government said it was duty-bound
to enforce the laws of the land unless clearly unconstitutional.
“Until Congress passes legislation
repealing the law, the administration will continue to defend the
statute when it is challenged in the justice system,” the Justice
Department said in a statement.
But Aravosis challenged that statement
too, saying the Justice Department was not bound to defend the law
and even if it did feel compelled to do so it certainly could
have skipped the anti-gay analogies.
“Our president had a choice. And he
chose to throw us under the bus,” Aravosis said citing a metaphor
often used to describe President Clinton's gay rights record, “and
then knife us for good measure.”