President Barack Obama's administration has announced that it will no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which is a Federal law that defines marriage as a legal union between a man and a woman.
On Feb. 23, United States Attorney General Eric Holder released a statement saying that the President believes that DOMA "contains numerous expressions reflecting moral disapproval of gays and lesbians" that violate the Equal Protection Clause in the Constitution's 14th Amendment.
Holder added that the legal landscape has changed considerably since the law was approved by Congress and signed by former President Bill Clinton in 1996. The Supreme Court has since ruled that certain laws discriminating against homosexual conduct are unConstitutional, and Congress recently repealed the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy that banned openly gay individuals from serving.
Six States have ignored the Federal law in recent years by legalizing gay marriage, while several other States have approved same-sex civil unions. On Feb. 23, Senate lawmakers in Maryland advanced a bill that would legalize gay marriages. Governor Martin O'Malley has pledged to sign the bill if it passes Congress.
In a column for The Huffington Post, UCLA law professor Adam Winkler expressed his concern that the White House's recent stance "sets a terrible precedent."
"Obama has declared that if the president doesn't agree with a law — even if the courts say it's Constitutional — he can choose not to defend it," Winkler wrote. "Don't be surprised if a President Palin points to Obama's decision when announcing her refusal to enforce and defend the landmark healthcare reform law because, in her view, the individual mandate is unConstitutional."