Last week the New York Times published a fascinating story suggesting that the White House may soon be forced to take a stand on DOMA, one way or the other:
President Obama has balanced on a political tightrope for two years over the Defense of Marriage Act, the contentious 1996 law barring federal recognition of same-sex marriages. Now, two new federal lawsuits threaten to snap that rope out from under him.
Mr. Obama, whose political base includes many supporters of gay rights, has urged lawmakers to repeal the law. But at the same time, citing an executive-branch duty to defend acts of Congress, he has sent Justice Department lawyers into court to oppose suits seeking to strike the law down as unconstitutional.
The President has been candid about his personal opposition to DOMA:
“I have a whole bunch of really smart lawyers who are looking at a whole range of options,” Mr. Obama said, referring to finding a way to end the Defense of Marriage Act. “I’m always looking for a way to get it done, if possible, through our elected representatives. That may not be possible.”
In the meantime, lack of action by the Justice Department, while not explicitly abetting DOMA’s dismantle, still would serve to pull the rug out from under it:
Justice Department officials say they have a responsibility to offer that argument [that DOMA is constitutional] and let courts decide, rather than effectively nullifying a law by not defending it.
In other words, inaction is itself an answer to the question, “Does the Obama Administration support this law passed by Congress?”
At any rate, we may soon get closer to a real answer from Obama’s Administration on DOMA: do they support it, or don’t they?