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 Washington Blade.

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, 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.”