A coalition of gay and lesbian rights
groups are urging President Obama to turn down defending the Defense
of Marriage Act (DOMA).
Massachusetts-based gay rights group
Equal Rep is spearheading the effort that asks Obama to keep his
promise to overturn DOMA by not defending an upcoming legal challenge
to the law.
& Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), the Boston-based
gay rights advocacy group at the center of the gay marriage debate in
New England, filed
a lawsuit on behalf of eight gay married couples and three surviving
spouses from Massachusetts in April. They claim the federal DOMA
discriminates against gay couples and is unconstitutional.
The lawsuit challenges a narrow portion
of the act that defines marriage as a heterosexual union for federal
agencies. Victory would not alter marriage laws in any states, but
would allow gay couples married in states where gay marriage is legal
to access federal benefits currently being denied.
The U.S. Department of Justice is
responsible for defending laws enacted by Congress and has until the
week of June 22 to file a response to the lawsuit.
Flip Flop campaign asks supporters to lobby the president to
instruct the Department of Justice not to defend the law in court.
“President Obama, the defense of this
discriminatory and archaic law will be tantamount to nothing short of
a flip flop from your previously stated intentions,” said Equal Rep
Founder Paul Sousa in a statement.
Meanwhile, momentum for repeal of DOMA
Saturday, Representative John Conyers,
a Michigan Democrat, signaled that a bill that would repeal DOMA,
including sections that allow states to ignore legal gay marriage, is
ready to be voted out of the House Judiciary Committee he chairs.
“Well, in my committee, yes, but in
the House and Senate, that's a different question,” Conyers told
the Michigan Messenger about a DOMA repeal passing.
California lawmakers are preparing a
joint resolution that supports that effort. Assemblymember Julia
Brownley, a Democrat from Santa Monica, has introduced a resolution
sponsored by Equality California (EQCA) that would put the state of
California on record in support of an immediate repeal of DOMA.
“If a state recognizes the love and
commitment of one couple, the federal government must do the same,”
said Assemblymember Brownley in introducing the bill. “I urge
Congress and the president to take a stand on the side of liberty and
treat all Americans equally.”
And late last year, former Georgia
Congressman Bob Barr, the author of the law, wrote “It truly is
time to get the federal government out of the marriage business” in
calling for repeal.