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The Obama administration is running head-on toward a confrontation with the Defense of Marriage Act, and it's not clear how it will play out.
New lawsuits have been filed regarding the 1996 law, which denies federal recognition of same-sex marriage and allows states to not recognize gay marriages performed in other jurisdictions. While Obama doesn't support DOMA, he feels it's the Justice Department's duty to defend congressional acts, so his administration is stuck defending a law he doesn't believe in.
Two cases involving DOMA were filed in districts covered by the appeals court in New York State, a court that has no precedent in dealing with laws that specifically discriminate against gay people, according to The New York Times. As DOMA opponents argue the law unfairly targets a specific class, the question of whether gay people are indeed a stigmatized class and can choose to change their minority status (i.e. their orientation) may be a sticking point in the cases. The Obama administration certainly doesn't want to find itself arguing those points in its defense.
According to unidentified sources, the Justice Department is currently wrestling with how to handle the cases; it's required to respond to them by March 11. DOMA has already been ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge in Massachusetts, and an appeal is pending.
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