The Obama Administration sent its top lawyer to argue that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional, gay weekly Metro Weekly reported.

Assistant Attorney General Tony West, who heads the civil division of the Department of Justice (DOJ), appeared at a San Francisco hearing reviewing Karen Golinski's legal challenge to the law that bars federal agencies from recognizing the legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples.

Golinski, a 9th U.S. Circuit of Appeals lawyer, sued the government after her employer denied health insurance coverage to her wife, Amy Cunninghis. The U.S. Office of Personnel (OPM) has argued that DOMA blocks such benefits.

Defending the law is the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG), which was created by Republican leaders in the House after the DOJ announced it would no longer defend the law in court.

The DOJ argued that heightened scrutiny should apply to sexual orientation classifications. DOMA is unconstitutional under that standard, the agency said

According to sources speaking to Metro Weekly, this was the first time the DOJ has appeared to argue its heightened scrutiny position. In July, the DOJ filed a 31-page brief in which it argued for the first time that DOMA serves no legitimate policy interest.