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DoJ Appeal in DOMA Case Suggests Appeal for DADT As Well

(photo: Zolk on Flickr)

Earlier, I noted that a federal judge had ordered an injunction against discharges of gay soldiers under the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. The government may choose to appeal the ruling and the injunction from Judge Virginia Phillips. And in a separate case regarding the Defense of Marriage Act, that’s just what DoJ is doing:

Today, the Department of Justice filed a notice of appeal in the case of Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, the challenge brought by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) to Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Representing seven married same-sex couples and three widowers, GLAD filed Gill in March 2009. The case was heard in May 2010 by U.S. District Court Judge Joseph L. Tauro, who issued a decision finding DOMA Section 3 unconstitutional on July 8, 2010.

“We fully expected an appeal and are more than ready to meet it head on,” said Mary L. Bonauto, GLAD’s Civil Rights Project Director. “DOMA brings harm to families like our plaintiffs every day, denying married couples and their children basic protections like health insurance, pensions, and Social Security benefits. We are confident in the strength of our case.”

That case moves to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, and is probably destined for the Supreme Court. I’d be surprised if that weren’t the outcome for DADT as well. Clearly the Obama Administration is not interested in using its discretion to take the issue out of the hands of Congress, with respect to either DOMA or DADT. In both cases, all they had to do to align the policy with what they claim to be their preferred objectives is to decline to appeal. To do so in the DADT ruling would end discharges of gay and lesbian service members immediately. In the case of DOMA, the President previously called it “an abhorrent law.” With DADT he announced to the world in this year’s State of the Union address that he would work to end the policy. He clearly doesn’t want to be the one responsible for pulling the trigger. And that calls into question all of his statements in favor of equality.

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DoJ Appeal in DOMA Case Suggests Appeal for DADT As Well

Earlier, I noted that a federal judge had ordered an injunction against discharges of gay soldiers under the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. The government may choose to appeal the ruling and the injunction from Judge Virginia Phillips. And in a separate case regarding the Defense of Marriage Act, that’s just what DoJ is doing:

Today, the Department of Justice filed a notice of appeal in the case of Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, the challenge brought by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) to Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Representing seven married same-sex couples and three widowers, GLAD filed Gill in March 2009. The case was heard in May 2010 by U.S. District Court Judge Joseph L. Tauro, who issued a decision finding DOMA Section 3 unconstitutional on July 8, 2010.

“We fully expected an appeal and are more than ready to meet it head on,” said Mary L. Bonauto, GLAD’s Civil Rights Project Director. “DOMA brings harm to families like our plaintiffs every day, denying married couples and their children basic protections like health insurance, pensions, and Social Security benefits. We are confident in the strength of our case.”

That case moves to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, and is probably destined for the Supreme Court. I’d be surprised if that weren’t the outcome for DADT as well. Clearly the Obama Administration is not interested in using its discretion to take the issue out of the hands of Congress, with respect to either DOMA or DADT. In both cases, all they had to do to align the policy with what they claim to be their preferred objectives is to decline to appeal. To do so in the DADT ruling would end discharges of gay and lesbian service members immediately. In the case of DOMA, the President previously called it “an abhorrent law.” With DADT he announced to the world in this year’s State of the Union address that he would work to end the policy. He clearly doesn’t want to be the one responsible for pulling the trigger. And that calls into question all of his statements in favor of equality.

UPDATE: Bmaz credibly argues that Judge Phillips overstepped her boundaries and her jurisdiction in ordering a worldwide injunction on DADT discharges, giving the Obama Justice Department a credible path to appeal on something other than the merits of the case. Bmaz adds that he would appeal to protect executive branch prerogatives in this case.

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David Dayen

David Dayen