By Katherine Dean
The Obama administration decided Tuesday that it will appeal U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Tauro’s July ruling, which declared the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional. Judge Tauro’s decision, which was issued in Massachusetts, the first state to legally recognize gay marriage, would extend federal marriage rights to homosexual couples in that state.
Obama has long said he opposes DOMA, a fact that, in light of the appeal, leaves most of us scratching our heads.
As reported in Reuters, Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler explained, “As a policy matter, the President has made clear that he believes DOMA is discriminatory and should be repealed.” However, “The Justice Department is defending the statute, as it traditionally does when acts of Congress are challenged,” Schmaler said.
Legal experts and journalists have speculated the possible reasons for the Justice Department’s appeal as well as potential unintended consequences of having a judge declare DOMA unconstitutional. Some suggest that the President would prefer to repeal DOMA through legislation rather than litigation. Others claim that the purpose of the appeal is to have a stronger ruling issued by a higher court, which could have broader application to gay couples outside of Massachusetts.
Regardless of whatever legal nuances were taken into account in deciding to appeal the ruling, it feels like a slap in the face by an administration that seems to say one thing and do another.
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