DOMA Loses Obama Administration Support

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Some critics of President Barack Obama's decision that his administration would no longer defend the federal law defining marriage have compared it to tyranny.

For 15 years, federal law has defined marriage as the union between one man and one woman, known as the Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA.

"The president's position on the Defense of Marriage Act has been consistent," said White House Spokesman Jay Carney. "He has long opposed it as unnecessary and unfair."

Maggie Gallagher, chairwoman of the National Organization for Marriage, talked more about the implications of Justice Department's decision on the CBN News Channel's Morning News, Feb. 24. Click here to watch.

Calling it unconstitutional, the Obama administration announced Wednesday it would no longer defend the law against legal challenges.

It's still the law of the land, but the about-face by the administration could influence judges considering challenges, such as the one filed by Connecticut residents Jerry Savoy and John Weiss.

The men are married under Connecticut state law, but not eligible to file joint federal tax returns or enjoy spousal benefits through Jerry's job with the government.

"We challenged the statute because it's fundamentally wrong," the two said. "And it directly affects us."

Legislatures in five states and Washington, D.C., have voted to allow same-sex marriage. Seven states, including Hawaii, which added itself to the list this week, allow civil unions.

However, same-sex marriage has lost in every state where the voters had a chance to cast their ballots -- a total of 31 states.

"Really it's just tyranny," said Penny Nance, chief executive officer of Concerned Women for America. "The fact that the president decided to ignore this important law in our country."

Obama defended the law for the first two years of his presidency. His critics say it's curious that Obama changed his mind just as his campaign for re-election starts to heat up, suggesting it's a political move to fire up his liberal base.

Still, it may backfire with some African Americans. The leader of a coalition of 34,000 black churches said the president "has violated the Christian faith," and that black churches must now reassess their support for him.

"President Obama, he's not a king," said Jordan Sekulow, director of international operations for the American Center for Law and Justice.

"He can't go around and say, 'You know what, Eric Holder and I decided it's not constitutional so we're not going to defend a law of the country anymore,'" he said.

The U.S. Supreme Court has never ruled on the issue, but if a lower court ends up overturning the law, the high court may be willing to hear the case.

Gay rights groups said the administration's decision is a step in the right direction, but they want more.

"This is a bite at the apple, not the whole apple," said Fred Sainz, a spokesman for Human Rights Campaign.

Conservative groups have called on Congress to take the place of the Justice Department, so the law will be defended in court.

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Jennifer Wishon

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Jennifer Wishon is the White House correspondent for CBN News based in the network’s Washington, D.C. Bureau.  Before taking over the White House beat, Jennifer covered Capitol Hill and other national news, from the economy to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Follow Jennifer on Twitter @JenniferWishon and "like" her at Facebook.com/JennWishon.