Monday, August 17, 2009
"You know, I grew up in a religious family, in a religious community and it just doesn't make sense to me. It just doesn't work for me in the long run. I never wanted to step on anyone else's religion and their beliefs -- that's what's great about our country -- until I started seeing it defining policy. ... Like gay marriage, you have a group of people telling other people how to live their lives, and you can't do that....I just say you have to, you really have to check what country you're living in because the freedom that allows you to practice religion is the same freedom you're stepping on. That's not right. And I want to add that if there was a nation of gay married couples who were telling you you couldn't practice your religion, I'd be speaking up for you too. So, let's stop the nonsense."
(AP) – 2 hours ago
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration filed court papers Monday claiming a federal marriage law discriminates against gays, even as government lawyers continue to defend the law.
Justice Department lawyers are seeking to dismiss a suit brought by a gay California couple challenging the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. The administration's response to the case has angered gay activists who see it as backtracking on campaign promises made by Barack Obama.
In the court papers, the administration urges the repeal of the law but says in the meantime, government lawyers will continue to defend it as a law on the books.
The government's previous filing in the case angered gay rights activists who supported Obama's candidacy in part because of his pledge to move forward on repealing the law and the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that prevents gays from serving openly in the military.
"The administration believes the Defense of Marriage Act is discriminatory and should be repealed," said Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler, because it prevents equal rights and benefits.
The Justice Department, she added, is obligated "to defend federal statutes when they are challenged in court. The Justice Department cannot pick and choose which federal laws it will defend based on any one administration's policy preferences."
The law, often called DOMA, denies federal recognition of gay marriage and gives states the right to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
Obama has pledged to work to repeal the law.
Monday's court filing was in response to a lawsuit by Arthur Smelt and Christopher Hammer, who are challenging the federal law, which prevents couples in states that recognize same-sex unions from securing Social Security spousal benefits, filing joint taxes and benefiting from other federal rights connected to marriage.
Justice lawyers have argued that the act is constitutional and contend that awarding federal marriage benefits to gays would infringe on the rights of taxpayers in the 30 states that specifically prohibit same-sex marriages.
Earlier this year, Massachusetts became the first state to challenge the law in court.
Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.