I have to echo PZ Myers: Obama screws up, very, very badly.
The basic facts, as I understand them: The Justice Department moved to dismiss the first gay marriage case filed in federal court. The case was brought by a couple married in California, Arthur Smelt and Christopher Hammer. Smelt and Hammer brought a constitutional challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, which says that the federal government and states without same-sex marriage don’t have to recognize the marital status of same-sex couples lawfully married in a state that provides for same-sex marriage. Smelt and Hammer argue that DOMA is in violation of the Constitution on several grounds, such as the Full Faith and Credit part.
The Justice Department argued (as I understand it; I admit this doesn’t make sense to me) that Smelt and Hammer had no legal standing to sue because the status of their marriage in California is not in question and punted the constitutional question. If anyone can explain this, please feel free to do so. I’m baffled.
Most of the Left Blogosphere is outraged, and the GLBT community feels betrayed. I’ll let Pam Spalding explain this POV.
There are a few defending the Obama Administration on the grounds that, while we may wish the law to be otherwise, the law is the law; see Sully. However, even Sully admits there is language in the DoJ’s brief that is outrageous and homophobic and inexcusable.
My understanding is that the DoJ is still largely infested with Bush appointees. While this is not an excuse, it might be an explanation. President Obama’s Attorney General should answer for this.
Update: Andy Sullivan writes that the DOMA brief was written by a Bush Administration holdover, which confirms my suspicion. “The harsh rhetoric, the gratuitous attacks on our relationships … they were written by someone who was given an award by Alberto Gonzales for his defense of the Partial Birth Abortion Act.” As I thought, but that doesn’t excuse the Justice Department for signing off on it.