President Barack Obama said he wants to do away with a federal marriage law he labels discriminatory - even as the Justice Department heads to court to defend the law.
The administration filed papers in federal court claiming the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) discriminates against gays and lesbians.
Meanwhile, the Justice Department filed papers fighting to uphold DOMA in a lawsuit brought by a gay couple in California.
Obama explained in a statement that Justice Department lawyers are defending the law "as it traditionally does when acts of Congress are challenged."
Department of Justice spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler also weighed in, saying the Department is obligated to "to defend federal statutes when they are challenged in court. The Justice Department cannot pick and choose which federal laws it will defend based on any one administration's policy preferences."
In the newly filed papers, the administration urges the repeal of the law. But it also says that, in the meantime, it will continue to defend the law currently on the books.