White House Press Secretary Robert
Gibbs on Tuesday stood by the Obama administration's decision to
defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the 1996 law that bans
federal agencies from recognizing the legal marriages of gay and
On Thursday, the
administration appealed two federal cases filed in Massachusetts that
found portions of the law to be unconstitutional.
“We can't declare the law
unconstitutional,” Gibbs said during a press briefing. “Obviously,
I think the president enumerates in there, the administration
enumerates in there, our belief on this law as we balance the
obligations that we have to represent the federal government. The
president believes that this is a law that should not exist and
should be repealed. But we, at the same time, have to represent the
viewpoint of the defendant.”
Obama has been criticized by both gay
rights activists and social conservatives for his defense.
Gay marriage backers have called on the
president to deem the law unconstitutional and therefore indefensible
in court – much like then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger refused to
defend California's voter-approved gay marriage ban, Proposition 8 –
social conservatives have claimed the president's defense was too
In its filing, the administration
called DOMA “rational” because states have yet to adopt uniform
rules on gay marriage.
A bill that would repeal DOMA has
gained little traction in Congress.