Various media sources are reporting that President Barack Obama has called the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional and has called on the Department of Justice to end its defense of the Clinton-era law that prohibits federal agencies from recognizing the legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples.

Attorney General Eric Holder said in statement that the president has “concluded that Section 3 of DOMA, as applied to legally married same-sex couples, … is unconstitutional.”

“Given that conclusion, the President has instructed the Department not to defend the statute in such cases,” Holder added. “I fully concur with the President's determination.”

The administration had faced criticism for appealing two Massachusetts-based challenges to the law. In both cases, a federal judge had ruled Section 3 of DOMA to be unconstitutional.

Gay marriage activists cheered the announcement.

“Freedom to Marry applauds the President and the Attorney General for acknowledging that sexual orientation discrimination has no place in American life and must be presumed unconstitutional, recognizing that discriminatory laws like so-called DOMA must be looked at with skeptical eyes, not rubber stamped,” said Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, in a statement.

“This [is] a momentous step forward toward Freedom to Marry's goal of ending federal marriage discrimination and fully protecting all loving and committed couples,” he added.