The very name of the law, "The Defense of Marriage Act," is nonsensical. Why would my wife and I need "defending" if a gay couple down the hall got married? Would we be under attack? Then there's the constitutional issue of equal justice under the law. Why do my wife and I enjoy federal benefits that same-sex couples don't, including Social Security survivors' benefits, family and medical leave, filing joint tax returns? This law legalizes such unfair treatment and even allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages that are legal in other states. Stating that the Obama administration will stop defending the act, Attorney General Eric Holder (above) cited its unjustifiable basis in discrimination and its unconstitutionality:
The Justice Department had defended the act in court until now. But Holder said Obama concluded the law fails to meet a rigorous standard under which courts view with suspicion any laws targeting minority groups, such as gays, who have suffered a history of discrimination — a stricter standard of scrutiny than the department has applied in the past.
Looking back to Congress' debate on the legislation, Holder said it was clear that there were "numerous expressions reflecting moral disapproval of gays and lesbians and their intimate and family relationships — precisely the kind of stereotype-based thinking and animus the (Constitution's) Equal Protection Clause is designed to guard against." [Quotation from Holder's letter to Congress]