President Obama’s administration said yesterday that it would no longer support the Defense of Marriage Act, which bans the recognition of same-sex marriage.
The administration, which previously supported the Act, now considers it to be unconstitutional. At least three challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act have been issued recently, and are currently going through the federal courts.
Legal director for Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, Gary Buseck, said: “When the U.S. government takes this position and then is taking it before the courts of the Unites States, it seems to me that’s a powerful argument to add to the mix”.
Just last month, the Justice Department vowed to continue to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court. The 1996 Act defines marriage as between a man and a woman and denies marriage-based benefits to gay couples.
But Obama has now instructed the Justice Department not to defend the legislation in court.
However, the Washington Post speculates that the move may be purely symbolic rather than legal. Members of Congress are still free to defend the law and opponents of same-sex marriage yesterday asked House Speaker John A. Boehner to intervene.
Some gay marriage opponents even believe that the government’s move may essentially help to preserve the Defense of Marriage Act in court.
Photo © Rex Features