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Gay rights law group poised to take on Justice Department over DOMA

By Sahil Kapur
Friday, July 9, 2010 12:34 EDT
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The gay rights group that argued on the winning side of Thursday’s court ruling declaring the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional said Friday that it expects the Department of Justice to appeal the decision, and it’s confident the cause of gay rights will prevail.

“We fully expect that the Obama administration will appeal the decision,” Janson Wu, an attorney for Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) involved with the case, told Raw Story. “It would be unusual if they didn’t. Typically, when a court strikes down a law as unconstitutional, the government appeals it.

“To be honest, we think that would be good,” Wu added. “The federal government wants to discriminate against gay and lesbian couples, and that’s just not enough to stand constitutional scrutiny. So we’re confident we’ll win.”

GLAD successfully argued that same-sex couples deserve equal protections and benefits under the law as heterosexual couples, and intends to do the same if it reaches a higher court.

Wu said GLAD would argue that DOMA is “discriminatory and unconstitutional, because it basically treats married same-sex couples differently from married different-sex couples for no rational reason.”

Opponents of the ruling said marriage ought to remain defined as between a man and a woman, as DOMA declares.

Appealing the decision could tarnish President Barack Obama’s standing with the gay community, which is already underwhelmed by him. But standing fully behind the cause of gay marriage could be potentially treacherous for Democrats this November.

One Democratic consultant with clients in this year’s midterm elections argued that while there’s no easy way out, the Obama administration would be wiser not to appeal the decision.

“This puts Democrats in a very difficult position,” said Cliff Schecter, president of Libertas LLC. “But Obama needs to dance with the one that brung him, and stand up for his base, part of which is the gay community.

“Obama will be attacked for being pro-gay in rural areas not matter what he does,” he explained. “It’s like caving on guns or abortion — Republicans go after us all the time on these issues no matter our positions.”

 
 
 
 
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