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Monday, August 17, 2009

Lambda Legal: Administration DOMA Brief a Mixed Bag

"Serious conversation must continue."

(Los Angeles, August 17, 2009) — In response to a brief filed today by the
Obama Administration in a federal challenge to the federal so-called
"Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA), Lambda Legal Marriage Project Director
Jenny Pizer issued the following statement:

"While there is much to like in today’s brief filed by the Obama
Administration, we are disappointed that it continues to argue that antigay
discrimination does not deserve serious constitutional scrutiny. The brief
relies on old decisions that no longer apply, and on low level court
decisions that never would have controlled. Lambda Legal and other LGBT
groups had serious conversations with the administration after the first
brief was filed and we appreciate the progress made since then. But,
clearly, serious conversation must continue.

Still, the brief is an enormous improvement on the one filed by the Justice
Department last June. It is important that the administration repudiated
the defamatory claims by antigay groups that denying same-sex couples
equality somehow benefits children, and also has stated outright what we
all know: DOMA discriminates. It is not -- as the prior brief said -- a
"neutral," nondiscriminatory policy that treats gay and straight people the

These are significant changes in the administration's position that we
welcome. At recent meetings with Department of Justice leadership and
White House officials, attorneys from Lambda Legal and other groups
discussed the serious constitutional and policy problems with the first
brief. The administration listened to our concerns, and removed some of
the offensive approaches taken before in defense of a statute the president
has said he strongly opposes and wants to see repealed. DOMA must be
repealed promptly on behalf of the thousands of American families hurting
every day because their national government discriminates against them. We
appreciate the statement released today by the President and call on him to
continue to provide leadership toward repeal and an end to the
discrimination against these American families."

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