The Department of Justice announced Thursday that it will "cease to defend" two more cases related to the Defense of Marriage Act in federal court, one day after announcing it will stop defending the 15-year-old law barring government recognition of same-sex marriages and civil unions.
Assistant attorney general Tony West notified the clerk of the First
Circuit that the department will no longer defend Section 3 of DOMA in Gill v. Office of Personnel Management and Massachusetts v. Health and Human Services. He cited President Barack Obama's recent assertion that DOMA is unconstitutional.
According to the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, which represents the plaintiffs, the department's lawyers will proceed to defend the government, but they will not argue that DOMA is constitutional.
"It is increasingly clear to everyone what has been clear to gay and lesbian families for years - that DOMA's denial of protections available to all other married families is discriminatory, harmful, and unjustifiable," GLAD's Mary L. Bonauto, the lead attorney for the Gill case and Pedersen v. OPM said in a statement. "DOJ's acknowledgment of this is momentous. At the same time, we know this isn't the end of the road."