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Author Topic: Obama admin. drops defense of anti-gay marriage law  (Read 2413 times)

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Offline Miss Philicia

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Obama admin. drops defense of anti-gay marriage law
« on: February 23, 2011, 01:02:48 PM »
Govt drops defense of anti-gay marriage law

By PETE YOST, Associated Press
32 mins ago

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration says it will no longer defend the constitutionality of a federal law that bans recognition of same-sex marriage.

In a statement Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Holder says President Barack Obama has concluded that the administration can no longer defend the federal law that defines marriage as only between a man and a woman.

The Justice Department had defended the Defense of Marriage Act in court until now.
"I’ve slept with enough men to know that I’m not gay"

Offline drewm

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Re: Obama admin. drops defense of anti-gay marriage law
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2011, 01:06:51 PM »
YAY!
Diagnosed in  May of 2010 with teh AIDS.

PCP Pneumonia . CD4 8 . VL 500,000

TRIUMEQ - VALTREX -  FLUOXETINE - FENOFIBRATE - PRAVASTATIN - CIALIS


Numbers consistent since 12/2010 - VL has remained undetectable and CD4 is anywhere from 275-325

Offline bmancanfly

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Re: Obama admin. drops defense of anti-gay marriage law
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2011, 01:22:00 PM »
Wow,  that was a sudden and unexpected about face.

Welcome news.
"The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt."

 Bertrand Russell

Offline woodshere

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Re: Obama admin. drops defense of anti-gay marriage law
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2011, 01:35:53 PM »
The Obama administration says it will no longer defend the constitutionality of a federal law that bans recognition of same-sex marriage.


Well now we can get back to planning your white wedding!
"Let us give pubicity to HV/AIDS and not hide it..." "One of the things destroying people with AIDS is the stigma we attach to it."   Nelson Mandela

Offline Joe K

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Re: Obama admin. drops defense of anti-gay marriage law
« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2011, 01:38:30 PM »
From the NYT. What a brilliant and moral decision by President Obama and the Justice Department. I have not been this proud of the American government, in a very long time and it feels good.

Obama Orders End to Defense of Federal Gay Marriage Law

By CHARLIE SAVAGE

WASHINGTON — President Obama, in a major legal policy shift, has directed the Justice Department to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act — the 1996 law that bars federal recognition of same-sex marriages — against lawsuits challenging it as unconstitutional.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. sent a letter to Congress on Wednesday saying that the Justice Department will now take the position in court that the Defense of Marriage Act should be struck down as a violation of gay couples’ rights to equal protection under the law.

“The President and I have concluded that classifications based on sexual orientation warrant heightened scrutiny and that, as applied to same-sex couples legally married under state law,” a crucial provision of the act is unconstitutional, Mr. Holder wrote.

The move is sure to be welcomed by gay-rights advocates, who had often criticized Mr. Obama for moving too slowly in his first two years in office to address issues that concern them. Coming after the administration successfully pushed late last year for repeal of the military’s ban on gay men and women serving openly, the change of policy on the marriage law could intensify the long-running political and ideological clash over gay marriage as the 2012 presidential campaign approaches.

While Mr. Obama has long argued that the Defense of Marriage Act is bad policy and has urged Congress to repeal it, his administration has also sent Justice Department lawyers into court to defend the statute’s constitutionality.

The new position will require the administration to file new briefs in such litigation, including a major case now pending before the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, in Boston.

Congress may decide to appoint its own lawyers to defend the law, or outside groups may attempt to intervene in the cases in order to mount legal arguments in the law’s defense. Mr. Holder said that the administration will continue to enforce the act unless and until Congress repeals it, or a court delivers a “definitive verdict against the law’s constitutionality.”

“Our attorneys will also notify the courts of our interest in providing Congress a full and fair opportunity to participate in the litigation in those cases,” he wrote. “We will remain parties to the case and continue to represent the interests of the United States throughout the litigation.”

The decision to change position grew out of an internal administration policy argument, first reported by The New York Times in January, over how to respond to two lawsuits filed late last year in New York.

Citing an executive-branch duty to defend acts of Congress when plausible arguments exist that they are constitutional, the Obama administration had previously argued that legal challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act should be dismissed.

But those lawsuits were filed in circuits that had precedents saying that when gay people say a law infringes on their rights, judges should use a test called “rational basis” to evaluate that claim. Under that standard, the law is presumed to be constitutional, and challengers must prove that there is no conceivable rational government basis for enacting it, a hard standard for challengers to meet.

But the new lawsuits were filed in districts covered by the appeals court in New York. That court has no precedent establishing which legal test judges should use when evaluating claims that a federal law violates gay people’s rights.

That vacuum meant that the administration’s legal team had to perform its own analysis of whether gay people were entitled to the protection of a test known as “heightened scrutiny.” Under that test, it is much easier to challenge laws that unequally affect a group, because the test presumes that such laws are unconstitutional, and they may be upheld only if the lawmakers’ purpose in enacting them served a compelling governmental interest.

In his letter, Mr. Holder said the administration legal team had decided that gay people merited the protection of the “heightened scrutiny” test, and that under that standard, the Defense of Marriage Act was impossible to keep defending as constitutional.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2011, 01:40:17 PM by killfoile »

Offline denb45

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Re: Obama admin. drops defense of anti-gay marriage law
« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2011, 01:40:36 PM »
Well now we can get back to planning your white wedding!

Well, hold your skirt hon, that depends on what bat-shit state you live in, and what they have to say about this, if aint over yet?
"it's so nice to be insane, cause no-one ask you to explain" Helen Reddy cc 1974

Offline Joe K

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Re: Obama admin. drops defense of anti-gay marriage law
« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2011, 01:51:15 PM »
Well, hold your skirt hon, that depends on what bat-shit state you live in, and what they have to say about this, if aint over yet?

While the fight isn't over, for those who live in states, that do recognize gay marriage, they will have access to all the federal benefits that straight married people get and that is a very big deal. This is really stirring news, because if DOMA is struck down as unconstitutional, then the state laws will come under increased scrutiny and may be repealed as a result. This is a very large step in the on-going struggle for equal rights.

modified to add: If DOMA is repealed, states with no laws banning same sex marriage, gay marriage would seem to be immediately available.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2011, 02:43:52 PM by killfoile »

Offline woodshere

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Re: Obama admin. drops defense of anti-gay marriage law
« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2011, 02:04:41 PM »
Well, hold your skirt hon, that depends on what bat-shit state you live in, and what they have to say about this, if aint over yet?

Oh honey, I was joking, I mean really can you imagine Miss P having anything to do with white at her wedding?
"Let us give pubicity to HV/AIDS and not hide it..." "One of the things destroying people with AIDS is the stigma we attach to it."   Nelson Mandela

Offline Miss Philicia

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Re: Obama admin. drops defense of anti-gay marriage law
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2011, 02:06:10 PM »
So here's a question for you -- will the so-called "progressives" that have carped for the last two years due to their lack of patience now have the President's back with the same intensity now that he's followed through on this as well as DADT?  I hope so, but I'm not going to hold my breath.
"I’ve slept with enough men to know that I’m not gay"

Offline Hellraiser

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Re: Obama admin. drops defense of anti-gay marriage law
« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2011, 02:09:52 PM »
So here's a question for you -- will the so-called "progressives" that have carped for the last two years due to their lack of patience now have the President's back with the same intensity now that he's followed through on this as well as DADT?  I hope so, but I'm not going to hold my breath.

They're so fickle.  In 2 months they'll forget all about this and move on to the next thing and complain that that also is not being addressed.

Offline Dachshund

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Re: Obama admin. drops defense of anti-gay marriage law
« Reply #10 on: February 23, 2011, 03:34:13 PM »
So here's a question for you -- will the so-called "progressives" that have carped for the last two years due to their lack of patience now have the President's back with the same intensity now that he's followed through on this as well as DADT?  I hope so, but I'm not going to hold my breath.


Girl, you know "carping" about this has nothin' to do with having Obama's back. It's called democracy. I support Obama when I think he's right, but will call him on something if I think he's wrong. Don't give the conservamo's aroung here an opening. ;)

Offline Matt39

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Re: Obama admin. drops defense of anti-gay marriage law
« Reply #11 on: February 23, 2011, 03:50:41 PM »
Here in the UK we have had the right to a 'Civil Partnership' (commonly referred to and generally accepted as a 'marriage') between same-sex couples - which confers all the same legal rights as a conventional 'marriage' - for some time. But it was not allowed to happen in any venue classified as a place of 'Religious Worship' which, for those holding any 'religious' beliefs was a matter of some heartache.
Our Tory/LibDem coalition government (roughly equivalent to the US Republicans) recently announced that would be changed to make such ceremonies completely legal taking place in any Church or place of religious worship.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12489160

Offline denb45

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Re: Obama admin. drops defense of anti-gay marriage law
« Reply #12 on: February 23, 2011, 04:17:58 PM »
While the fight isn't over, for those who live in states, that do recognize gay marriage, they will have access to all the federal benefits that straight married people get and that is a very big deal. This is really stirring news, because if DOMA is struck down as unconstitutional, then the state laws will come under increased scrutiny and may be repealed as a result. This is a very large step in the on-going struggle for equal rights.

modified to add: If DOMA is repealed, states with no laws banning same sex marriage, gay marriage would seem to be immediately available.


All this does is stops the feds from joining state lawsuits against gays marrying, it does not recognize or modify their look on marriage, and they state that the congress will have a say in any further amendment of gay suits... so this is going to get ugly not better  ???
« Last Edit: February 23, 2011, 04:39:46 PM by denb45 »
"it's so nice to be insane, cause no-one ask you to explain" Helen Reddy cc 1974

Offline tednlou2

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Re: Obama admin. drops defense of anti-gay marriage law
« Reply #13 on: February 24, 2011, 01:28:43 AM »
I have been disappointed with President Obama over these issues.  I was beginning to think that he was going to be just like every other politician--say what he needs to say and not really do anything.  But, I now think he has a strategic plan.  First DADT and now this.  I do think people who want things done, want them done yesterday.  That is understandable when it affects your daily life.  I'm trying to be more reasonable by taking into account how things get done in Washington.  There are often many small and big steps to getting to a desired result.  Now, I'm more optimistic about the Bush and Gore lawyers joining forces.  They have every intention on taking gay marriage to the Supreme Court.  I'm optimistic we will prevail.  I do think it will be a 5-4 decision, though.

DOMA was one of the few things in which I was disappointed with Clinton.  1996 was an election year, and I believe it was a total political move.  Having said that, I try to remember the political climate and attitudes towards gays in 1996.  However, it still didn't make it right.  We expect our leaders to stand up against discrimination.  I do not think DOMA would have lost Clinton the election against Dole, if he didn't enact it.  But, that was the past and we can't change that.     

Offline edfu

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Re: Obama admin. drops defense of anti-gay marriage law
« Reply #14 on: February 24, 2011, 07:41:50 AM »
I must have been asleep....  When did Obama say he supported gay marriage?

By the way, contradictory state laws usually end up being decided by the Supreme Court.
"No one will ever be free so long as there are pestilences."--Albert Camus, "The Plague"

"Mankind can never be free until the last brick in the last church falls on the head of the last priest."--Voltaire

Offline denb45

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Re: Obama admin. drops defense of anti-gay marriage law
« Reply #15 on: February 24, 2011, 09:53:20 AM »
I must have been asleep....  When did Obama say he supported gay marriage?

By the way, contradictory state laws usually end up being decided by the Supreme Court.

You weren't asleep, Obama nor the Federal Govt. said they supported this, and currently they still don't
however this will get ugly at the state-level, not better, also THIS dose not mean that states who do allow
this entitles anyone who's already in a gay marriage living in any state where this is allowed to receive any federal benefits as the Feds still don't recognize gay marriage, it does open up the door for a lotta of law
suits starting @ the state-level, due to this being contradictory, and this will be debated until the Supreme Court say so, and then it will be up to congress, this aint over yet, we still have a very long way to go  ;)
"it's so nice to be insane, cause no-one ask you to explain" Helen Reddy cc 1974

Offline pozniceguy

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Re: Obama admin. drops defense of anti-gay marriage law
« Reply #16 on: February 24, 2011, 01:24:14 PM »
I have to agree  this just opens up a whole new retirement plan for a lot of lawyers......the implications ,  assuming it gets to a  favorable Supreme Court decision i.e  unconstitutional , are  changes to  the tax, immigration, social security, Medicare  and almost every Government sponsored (  state and federal)  law/rule/regulation that affects "families"..... this is an enormous issue...   as will the full implementation of the DADT  when that actually happens.

Nick
remember the good times...honor the past but don't live there
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Offline edfu

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Re: Obama admin. drops defense of anti-gay marriage law
« Reply #17 on: February 25, 2011, 02:40:57 AM »
Gay pro-equality activists are being  remarkably naive about this.   Obama should be praised for this recent development, but they should simultaneously be pointing out that, as Attorney General Holder has stated, DOMA is and still will be actively enforced "but not defended."   To quote the vernacular:  WTF???  Now the Republicans' claim that Obama has declared a law unconstitutional has already become common wisdom.   We all need to be reminded that DOMA is still the law of the land until two or three circuit courts strike it down on the way to the Supreme Court.  

Obama needs our votes again, and although I don't deny this new  development is indeed welcome news, we should not forget that for two years--much of it during a time that the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and would have had a genuine opportunity to repeal DOMA or pass ENDA or a true repeal of DADT that included a non-discrimination clause that covered sexual orientation (which the current DADT repeal does NOT)--Obama spent the time actually DEFENDING DOMA and keeping quiet and refusing to engage in any of the state battles that saw marriage equality on the ballot. According to Jay Carney's news conference yesterday, Obama is still "grappling" with the issue of marriage equality.  When he was first a Senate candidate, Obama was on record as being fully supportive of marriage equality and vowed to fight any "efforts to prohibit" same-sex marriages. He's "grappled" backward.         
     
Obama only responds to what he feels will be beneficial to his political career. Our equality is nothing but a political bargaining chip to help achieve his career goals.  We must let him know that because of his history of breaking his word on LGBT issues, our support is based on his support of equality.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2011, 03:04:59 AM by edfu »
"No one will ever be free so long as there are pestilences."--Albert Camus, "The Plague"

"Mankind can never be free until the last brick in the last church falls on the head of the last priest."--Voltaire

Offline Cliff

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Re: Obama admin. drops defense of anti-gay marriage law
« Reply #18 on: February 25, 2011, 05:08:38 AM »
Debbie downer's back.

Offline Joe K

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Re: Obama admin. drops defense of anti-gay marriage law
« Reply #19 on: February 25, 2011, 10:33:00 AM »
Obama only responds to what he feels will be beneficial to his political career. Our equality is nothing but a political bargaining chip to help achieve his career goals.  We must let him know that because of his history of breaking his word on LGBT issues, our support is based on his support of equality.

I am curious as to what GLBT issues the president has ignored, when he got DADT repealed and has now properly labeled DOMA as unconstitutional? He made campaign promises that he has steadily worked on and now he has delivered on two very large GLBT issues. You cannot expect him to make the laws disappear overnight, but he has laid a very solid foundation for the elimination of both issues and all of this, in under two years.

What he said two years ago does not matter so much to me, it is the fact that his opinion on certain GLBT issues continues to evolve and obviously he has changed his mind and produced these results. So what exactly are you complaining about? The way I see it, is we went from a president, who wanted to enshrine discrimination against GLBT in the US Constitution, to a president who is not afraid to do what he feels is right. Yes this may help him get reelected and I hope he is, because we have a lot more work to do and we need friends in very high places.

Offline Jeff G

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Re: Obama admin. drops defense of anti-gay marriage law
« Reply #20 on: February 25, 2011, 11:12:27 AM »
I think what the president did was very courageous politically . He essentially told congress if you cant repeal this law I will not defend it in court , this is a very strong stance in my estimation .

When the president cant get congress to repeal something he thinks is unjust ignoring it or saying what else can I do would be the politically easy way out , that's not what happened here .

Offline Joe K

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Re: Obama admin. drops defense of anti-gay marriage law
« Reply #21 on: February 25, 2011, 11:49:02 AM »
I think what the president did was very courageous politically . He essentially told congress if you cant repeal this law I will not defend it in court , this is a very strong stance in my estimation .

When the president cant get congress to repeal something he thinks is unjust ignoring it or saying what else can I do would be the politically easy way out , that's not what happened here .

What I see as important is that President Obama has rightly decided that DOMA, as currently written is unconstitutional. The job of the president is to defend all laws of the US, UNLESS he determines that a given law is unconstitutional and then he is allowed to not have his Justice Dept. defend that law. What is crucially important here, is the fact that DOMA is unconstitutional and he has started the process to have that law overturned. By basing his decision on constitutional law, he is clearing the way for the law to be overturned, by one of the other two branches of government. He knows that if Congress refuses to repeal the law, the Supreme Court will... because the law is unconstitutional.

modified to add a New York Times article, that describes the issues involved with DOMA.

January 28, 2011

Suits on Same-Sex Marriage May Force Administration to Take a Stand
By CHARLIE SAVAGE

WASHINGTON — President Obama has balanced on a political tightrope for two years over the Defense of Marriage Act, the contentious 1996 law barring federal recognition of same-sex marriages. Now, two new federal lawsuits threaten to snap that rope out from under him.

Mr. Obama, whose political base includes many supporters of gay rights, has urged lawmakers to repeal the law. But at the same time, citing an executive-branch duty to defend acts of Congress, he has sent Justice Department lawyers into court to oppose suits seeking to strike the law down as unconstitutional.

The two lawsuits, however, have provoked an internal administration debate about how to sustain its have-it-both-ways stance, officials said. Unlike previous challenges, the new lawsuits were filed in districts covered by the appeals court in New York — one of the only circuits with no modern precedent saying how to evaluate claims that a law discriminates against gay people.

That means that the administration, for the first time, may be required to take a clear stand on politically explosive questions like whether gay men and lesbians have been unfairly stigmatized, are politically powerful, and can choose to change their sexual orientation.

“Now they are being asked what they think the law should be, and not merely how to apply the law as it exists,” said Michael Dorf, a Cornell University law professor. “There is much less room to hide for that decision.”

James Esseks, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer helping with one case, said the new suits could be game-changing.

The Obama legal team has not yet decided what path to take on the lawsuits, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity about the internal deliberations. But the Justice Department must respond by March 11. The debate has arisen at a time when Mr. Obama has signaled that his administration may be re-evaluating its stance.

As a candidate, Mr. Obama backed civil unions for gay people while opposing same-sex marriage. But last month, after Congress — in the final hours before Republicans took control of the House — repealed the law barring gay men, lesbians and bisexuals from serving openly in the military, he told The Advocate, a magazine that focuses on gay issues, that his views on marriage rights “are evolving.”

“I have a whole bunch of really smart lawyers who are looking at a whole range of options,” Mr. Obama said, referring to finding a way to end the Defense of Marriage Act. “I’m always looking for a way to get it done, if possible, through our elected representatives. That may not be possible.”

Since 2003, when the Supreme Court struck down laws criminalizing gay sex, the legal landscape for same-sex marriage has shifted. Eight states now grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples or recognize such marriages if performed elsewhere. But under the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal government cannot recognize those relationships.

That has raised a crucial question: Is it constitutional for the federal government to grant certain benefits — like health insurance for spouses of federal workers, or an exemption to estate taxes for surviving spouses — to some people who are legally married under their state’s laws, but not to others, based on their sexual orientation?

The Constitution declares that everyone has a right to equal protection by the law. But many laws treat some people differently from others. Courts uphold such policies as constitutional if they can pass a test showing that the discrimination is not invidious.

A law singling out an ordinary class — like owners of property in a district with special tax rates — gets an easy test. It is presumed valid, and a challenge is dismissed unless a plaintiff proves that the law advances no conceivable rational state interest.

But a law focusing on a class that has often been subjected to unfair discrimination — like a racial group — gets a hard test. It is presumed invalid and struck down unless the government proves that officials’ purpose in adopting the law advances a compelling interest.

Gay-rights groups contend that the marriage act ought to be struck down under either test. Last year, a federal judge in Massachusetts agreed, saying it was unconstitutional even under the easy test’s standards.

But the Obama administration, which appealed that ruling, contends that a plausible argument exists for why the act might be constitutional. Justice Department officials say they have a responsibility to offer that argument and let courts decide, rather than effectively nullifying a law by not defending it.

Justice officials have argued that the marriage act is justified, under the easy test’s standards, by a government interest in preserving the status quo at the federal level, allowing states to experiment. And in its brief appealing the Massachusetts ruling, the department stressed seven times that a “binding” or “settled” precedent in that circuit required the easy test.

But for the new lawsuits, no such precedent exists. The Obama team has to say which test it thinks should be used. Courts give a class the protection of the hard test if it has been unfairly stigmatized and if its members cannot choose to leave the class, among other factors. By those standards, it could be awkward, especially for a Democratic administration, to proclaim that gay people do not qualify for it.

But under a hard test, the administration’s argument for upholding the marriage law would be weaker, legal specialists say, in part because when lawmakers enacted it in 1996, they mentioned only in passing an interest in preserving the federal status quo as states experimented.

Some conservatives have accused the administration of throwing the fight by not invoking other arguments, like morality. And in particular, lawmakers’ primary focus in 1996 was “encouraging responsible procreation and child-rearing.”

But the administration’s filings in other cases disavowed that rationale, noting that infertile heterosexuals may marry and citing studies that children raised by same-sex parents are as likely to be well-adjusted as those raised by heterosexuals.

M. Edward Whelan III, a former Bush administration lawyer, said the Obama team’s rejection of the children-based rationale amounted to “sabotage.”

Another possible path, legal specialists say, would be to urge the judges to adopt the easy test because courts elsewhere have done so, without laying out any full legal analysis of how to think about gay people as a class.

Gay-rights supporters, however, call that option dishonest: those cases largely derived from decisions before the Supreme Court’s 2003 sodomy ruling. The premise that it was constitutional to criminalize gay sex short-circuited appraisal of protections for gay people from lesser forms of official discrimination.

“We think there is only one answer the government and the court can come to if they apply the test conscientiously, and that is that the government must have to prove why it needs to treat gay people differently,” said Mr. Esseks, the A.C.L.U. lawyer.

“And if the government has to have a real reason, as opposed to a made-up reason, we don’t think there is any way that the government wins.”
« Last Edit: February 25, 2011, 01:01:20 PM by killfoile »

 


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