Covered at Reason 24/7: Obama Administration Sends Letter Opposing Prop. 8 (As Does Everybody Else)

The Obama Administration today decided that recognition of gay marriage in California is a federal issue after all. As the deadline approached for friendly parties to send amicus briefs, the Justice Department decided that it will weigh in and ask for Proposition 8 (which bans legal recognition of gay marriages in the state) to be struck down.

NBC News got the confirmation earlier today:

Administration officials say the Justice Department will urge the U.S. Supreme Court to allow same-sex marriage to resume in California, wading into the protracted legal battle over Proposition 8 and giving gay-rights advocates a new court ally.

After first suggesting it would not get involved, the Obama administration will file a friend-of-the-court brief late today in support of the two gay couples who launched the fight over the issue four years ago, the officials said. Today is the last day for filing briefs in support of the couples' position.

The administration last year signaled it might stay on the sidelines. In May, when President Obama first said that "same-sex couples should be able to get married," he added that it was not a matter for the federal government.

A veritable flood of amicus briefs poured forth today. Of libertarian interest, the Cato Institute joined up with the Constitutional Accountability Center to file a joint brief, as has libertarian-leaning NFL punter Chris Kluwe with same-sex marriage activist and Balitmore Raven Brendan Ayanbadejo, and more than 200 companies.

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  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    No H8!

    Fearless Leader is finally taking gay rites seriously. He's so awesome.

  • Jerry on the boat||

    Yeah, this totally has nothing to do with anything else. He's such a noble guy.

  • Tony||

    Isn't it clever how he can't possibly win?

  • BarryD||

    Well, when he's out of office, he can come out of the closet and marry Tom Cruise or something.

  • Brandon||

    HuffPo had this as their top headline for a while, with a picture of Obama pointing toward the camera. Even if he's lost Woodward, Arianna Huffington will never abandon or question the mighty Obama.

  • Paul.||

    He hasn't "lost Woodward", Woodward merely came to some conclusions about some things within the hurricane of a budget kerfuffle... conclusions which the Obama administration didn't agree with.

    They emailed him their corrections to the story, Woodward stammered, every journalist under 45 years of age looked at Woodward and said, "You criticized what? Whose team are you on anyway?" and the whole thing will end with Woodward voting for Biden in 2016.

    I still say the interesting story is the media reaction to Woodward, not the Obama administration's reaction to Woodward. Because it tells us how deep the cult is.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    "In May, when President Obama first said that "same-sex couples should be able to get married," he added that it was not a matter for the federal government."

    You know, when he was saying that he supported a federalist approach on this issue, I said that his gay-rights supporters were either being blindly loyal, or else they assumed he was lying - because usually they dismiss any invocation of federalism as inherently homophobic.

    Now it turns out that Obama was simply kidding all along about the federalism thing. His supporters must be breathing sighs of relief.

  • ||

    Out of curiosity Eduard, if Obama worked to repeal DOMA how would you feel? DOMA shifts some of the power from state to federal hands when defining marriage. (Not arguing that Obama hasn't been disingenuous about his position on SSM, I'm just curious if you're really interested in federalism, or just interested in using federalism as a wedge against gay marriage)

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    The Tenth Amendment allows states to issue licenses to SSM couples. DOMA allows states without such a policy to decide for themselves whether to recognize another state's SSM licenses.

    Without DOMA, then any single state could effectively establish SSM throughout the country by making other state accept their SSM licenses under the Constitution's Comity Clause.

    The wedge being used here is a one-way-ratchet "federalism" by which states with SSM have their laws respected, while states without SSM have their laws challenged or abrogated.

    If federalism were fully allowed and the Tenth Amendment and DOMA respected, then some states would have SSM and others wouldn't. The gay-libbers have made clear that they think this is an intolerable situation. Every state without exception has to meet their demands.

  • ||

    Not really, DOMA forbids the federal government as interpreting a couple married in a SSM state as married. With first cousin marriage states some states allow it to occur, some states don't allow it to occur and some states consider first cousin marriages as annulled in those states. The federal government interprets first cousin marriages as legal if they were performed in a jurisdiction where they were legal. This is not the case with SSM. So DOMA effectively tells states they have the right to define marriage within their borders, but the federal government MUST ignore that definition.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    We're discussing different sections of DOMA, but, yes, it includes a federal definition of marriage.

    If we look on the federal government as one of 51 jurisdictions in the USA, we see that it ought to have some sort of definition. The SSM advocates are, in general, neutral on the issue of polygamy (which has long been denied recognition under federal law), so they can't claim that they are consistently in favor of an open-ended federal definition. They just want to expand the definition enough to take in SSM, while letting the feds deny recognition to polygamous groups.

    The SSM movement's concern-trolling about federalism is then seen as very limited in scope; they're not even taking a principled stance in favor of the feds deferring to the definitions of the states.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Nor has the SSM movement, to my knowledge, taken a stand against the part of immigration law by which immigration authorities get to second-guess state authorities as to the legitimacy of a marriage.

  • ||

    The Federal government isn't just another state. I can move from CA to NY if gay marriage is particularly important to me, but I can't easily emigrate to another country the way I can move states. Saying that SSM proponents are disingenuous because they aren't universally and aggressively in favor of polygamy and therefore don't deserve federalism is a rather lame explanation. I am certain that African Americans do not universally believe that gays should be allowed to marry, but people aren't running around complaining that miscegenation laws were struck down.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Citing the miscegenation laws is popular, but it presumes what has to be proved.

    And the federal definition kicks in when the issue is federal benefits, or immigration status (as I mentioned, the federal immigration authorities are already in the business of challenging the validity of straight marriages approved by the states).

    If the feds limited themselves to their legitimate functions, and didn't have so many benefit programs, then the federal definition of marriage would be much less significant than the state definitions.

  • ||

    I wasn't comparing SSM to interracial marriage I was pointing out that your appeal to legalizing polygamy doesn't work.

    That "if" is certainly working hard. Federal marriage benefits are non trivial, and weeding out immigration fraud is categorically different than denying immigration rights and survivor benefits based on serial orientation.

  • ||

    Don't waste your time, jesse. He's a obsessive Catholic dipshit who tries to bend every conversation to his pet issues, first and foremost of which is abortion, with gays coming in second. Talking to him is like having a discussion with a wall. A wall that obsesses about abortion and homos.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    I'm very sorry my opinions on this topic aren't as flexible as those of other commenters.

    But, yes, I am not what you'd call a fan of abortion, which prolifers of all religious backgrounds (including some atheists) oppose, and when Reason does an article about "OMG govt regulation of abortion is horrible and a violation of liberty" I enter a dissent.

    I also comment on other topics, but on the topics you mention, I tend to get more responses, which in turn gives me a chance to comment some more. Really, then, it's your fault for replying to me.

  • Marshall Gill||

    who tries to bend every conversation to his pet issues

    No, shit! Imagine discussing gay marriage in a gay marriage thread!

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    I was sending my brain waves to Reason headquarters, clouding their minds and making them cover my favorite topics.

  • Scott S.||

    You concentrated too hard and turned me gay. Thanks a lot!

  • ||

    So he likes to bend over the issues, with gays coming in from behind?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Isn't it surprising how about 50% of the American population is gay? Because that's the proportion still skeptical about SSM, and we all know that opponents of SSM are all closeted gays.

  • ||

    I didn't think I was going to convince him. I'm just interested in his position on the topic. I wish I could continue the chat but my flight is boarding.

  • Sevo||

    I guess the polls finally told him there were several votes more if he 'took a stand'.

  • DenverJay||

    I always thought that the true Libertarian position on marriage should be viewed through contract law. There really shouldn't be ANY civil marriage, just civil unions, contracts that any two (or three or four) people can sign. Meanwhile, if a couple wish to have their church marry them in the eyes of their God, that is a completely separate matter, one that is between them, their God, and their church. No church should be required to join any people the church believes should not be married.

  • Marshall Gill||

    Well, that IS the Libertarian position but because it is unfair some like to get lots of sand in their vaginas and show how they are not like those close minded, closeted, homophobes.

    Get the government out of marriage? It can't be done! Strange how the exact same argument about SSM could have been made a mere 10 years ago. It certainly can't be done if those who should support it surrender without a fight. Once there are even more people gaining benefit from marriage THEN we can get rid of it.

  • Tony||

    It usually starts by writing your congressperson.

    Oh you're going to sit on your ass and hope into the air instead? That's definitely worth ignoring a civil rights injustice for.

  • Virginian||

    Just go get married. One of the gay couples I know did. They had a lovely ceremony, with their kids in attendance, exchanged rings, had the whole custom vows thing. It was a gorgeous Indian summer day in Virginia. I wore a badass cream suit, a fine Panama hat, danced my ass off, got drunk, and ended up leaving with a sweet young thing.

    I'm just real sorry, I find this obsession with government permission slips to be baffling. I transact all my business with cash, I "cheat" as much as possible on my taxes, buy most of my guns in private sales, and if I ever do get married there won't be a license involved at all. Life is too good to subject yourself to bureaucracy. Live free.

  • Tony||

    I intend to, by never getting married. I think getting married is stupid and weddings are garish displays of narcissism.

    I'm not arguing for more marriages, I'm arguing for equal treatment under the law.

  • Tony||

    We should definitely continue imprisoning weed smokers until the day comes that we end of prohibition of heroin.

  • cavalier973||

    One will not go to jail for holding a ceremony and exchanging marriage vows with another of the same gender.

  • jangtrang||

    Man you gotta love those bought and paid for politicians!

  • Paul.||

    The federal government had every opportunity to take an equal rights position on this earlier: making straight marriage illegal, too, but nope, they fucked it up and made everyone miserable.


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