The Obama administration said in a press conference today that a federal law that bans recognition of same-sex marriage is unconstitutional and has directed the Justice Department not to defend the law anymore in court cases across the United States. Attorney General Eric Holder told Congress that President Obama had decided that his administration can no longer defend the federal law that defines marriage as only between a man and a woman.
“After careful consideration, including a review of my recommendation, the president has concluded that given a number of factors, including a documented history of discrimination, classifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to a more heightened standard of scrutiny,” Holder said in a statement released Wednesday. He also noted that the congressional debate during passage of the Defense of Marriage Act “contains numerous expressions reflecting moral disapproval of gays and lesbians and their intimate and family relationships — precisely the kind of stereotype-based thinking and animus the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause is designed to guard against.”
Holder said the Justice Department will immediately bring the policy change to the attention of two federal courts now hearing separate lawsuits targeting the Defense of Marriage Act.