Gay Rights Group Tells President Obama That His Pro-DOMA Legal Brief Caused LGBT Community Pain

Jun 15, 2009 2:53pm

The Obama Justice Department last week wrote a brief in support of the Defense of Marriage Act, which as a candidate then-Sen. Obama called “abhorrent.”

The brief, which compared in legal terms same-sex marriages to incestuous ones, has met with some anger in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community, among others.

Today Joe Solmonese, the president of the LGBT rights organization the Human Rights Campaign, wrote to the Presidentexpressing the feeling that “when your administration filed a brief defending the constitutionality of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act, I realized that although I and other LGBT leaders have introduced ourselves to you as policy makers, we clearly have not been heard, and seen, as what we also are: human beings whose lives, loves, and families are equal to yours.  I know this because this brief would not have seen the light of day if someone in your administration who truly recognized our humanity and equality had weighed in with you.”

Solmonese took issue with the Obama Justice Department’s use of “the well-worn argument that excluding same-sex couples from basic protections is somehow good for other married people.” (The brief said that “Because all 50 States recognize hetero-sexual marriage, it was reasonable and rational for Congress to maintain its longstanding policy of fostering this traditional and universally-recognized form of marriage.”)

Solmonese goes on to take issue with a number of arguments in the brief, concluding by writing, “I cannot overstate the pain that we feel as human beings and as families when we read an argument, presented in federal court, implying that our own marriages have no more constitutional standing than incestuous ones.”

He says to the president that the “brief should not be good enough for you.  The question is, Mr. President—do you believe that it’s good enough for us?”

-jpt

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