Saturday, February 26, 2011


I know I have some lawyers who are readers here, and at least one judge. So maybe they can provide enlightenment. I have a problem with President Obama's recent stance on DOMA.

Admittedly no legal scholar, I've always thought the law was unconstitutional, and I was very disappointed in Clinton for signing it. Constitutional or not, it was and is, clearly, discriminatory, religious-based, unfounded, hurtful, senseless, useless, and who-knows what else. So I'm with the president when he says it's wrong; the sooner it's off the books the happier I'll be.

But I find myself agreeing with those on the right who are saying he's wrong in his approach. I don't go as far as Mister Screw-around-on-'em-while-they're-dying-and-divorce-'em-before-they're-dead, but as long as the law is the law, he's bound to defend it, isn't he? For him to have said he believes it's unconstitutional and therefore he'll no longer enforce it, isn't within his powers. As I see it.

I'd much preferred it, had he said that, given financial constraints throughout the government, and the important issues facing the Justice Department, he's ordered a prioritizing of efforts, and defense of DOMA is at the bottom of the list. We'll get to it when we've taken care of all the other more pressing issues like terrorism and corruption, and if we don't run out of money to spend on it.

Meanwhile, he could urge Congress to rescind it, or whatever the proper terminology is. The effect would have been the same. The suggestion of executive overreach would be absent.

Or am I wrong?

[Addendum, 8:30 pm: Here's an illuminating article. I was wrong.]


  1. It makes sense as a political move:

    "Moreover, the gay marriage opponents during that Proposition 8 trial didn’t just look dumb -- they looked mean."

    Didn't this happen in the Maryland legislature? Some have switched their votes because "I just can't be on that side."

  2. I agree with the politics; and the article to which you linked begins with "as required by law," which suggests I'm wrong about the constitutional part.

  3. The Governor and Attorney General of California declined to defend Proposition 8 in the courts. That was the anti-same-sex marriage amendment that passed in '08. That's a somewhat analogous situation. As I understand it, it's customary, but not required by either statute or the Constitution.

    Over at Balloon Juice, John Cola asked the same question and got a lot of comments. Perhaps some of them might help, and here's more discussion from Lawyers, Guns & Money.

  4. Thanks, Pieter; and here's another good article, a link to which I've also added to my original post.

  5. You know what oughta be Un-Constitutional???
    Postin a pic of Barney Fife, and then not a single mention of Barney, Andy, Otic, Goober, Aunt B, or that barber more flaming than J. Edgar Hoover in Heels,
    "Need a "Haircut" Enn-Dee......?"
    and Andy would just smile, cause everone knew what F-loyd meant by "Haircut"...
    Oh, and if I ever get cancer, I hope it's the kind Newt's wife had, cause she's still alive some 30+ years later.
    OK, I know we're all "Dying" in the Jungian sense, but seriously, she had Cervical Dysplasia, not exactly a Grade V Glioma...If your gonna insult Newt, do it for something legitimate, like his stupid hair.


  6. You're right, Frank. I stand corrected. He dumped her while she was in the hospital, but she wasn't dying. Down, but not out. Drugged, but not dying.

    Makes all the difference. He's a paragon of opposite marriage, a virtual and virtuous poster boy for it. The perfect spokesman and defender.


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