Friday, October 30, 2009

Obama administration again validates gay and lesbian parents

The US Justice Department filed a memorandum in support of a motion to dismiss today in Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. United States, the lawsuit brought by Massachusetts arguing that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. This lawsuit complements the one brought by GLAD on behalf of several named plaintiffs.

The Justice Department memorandum reiterates that the administration supports repeal of DOMA but must nonetheless defend its constitutionality. It makes no explicit argument that sexual orientation is not a suspect classification entitled to heightened Equal Protection scrutiny; rather it says that the court is bound by a First Circuit US Court of Appeals ruling to that effect. I confess that my aggravation with the memorandum was tempered, as I read it, with the knowledge that any such document filed by a Republican administration would say vile and offensive things about us. By that measure, this is surely an improvement.

And the administration once again took the opportunity to distant itself from assertions that we are bad parents. Here's the footnote in full (check out how the government says the Scalia dissent in Lawrence, meant to scare everyone into thinking that decriminalizing sodomy would lead to same-sex marriage, is essentially correct!):

In this case, the government does not rely on certain purported interests set forth in the legislative history of DOMA, including the purported interests in “responsible procreation and child-rearing” -- that is, the assertions that (1) the government’s interest in “responsible procreation” justifies limiting marriage to a union between one man and one woman, and (2) that the government has an interest in promoting the raising of children by both of their biological parents. See H.R. Rep. No. 104-664, at 12-13, reprinted in 1996 U.S.C.C.A.N. at 2916-17. Since the enactment of DOMA, many leading medical, psychological, and social welfare organizations have issued policies opposing restrictions on lesbian and gay parenting upon concluding, based on numerous studies, that children raised by gay and lesbian parents are as likely to be well-adjusted as children raised by heterosexual parents. See American Academy of Pediatrics,;109/2/339 (February 2002 policy statement); American Psychological Association, (July 2004 policy statement); American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, (June 1999 policy statement); American Medical Association, (AMA Policy Regarding Sexual Orientation); Child Welfare League of America, (Position Statement on Parenting of Children by Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Adults).
Furthermore, in Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558, 605 (2003), Justice Scalia acknowledged in his dissent that encouraging procreation would not be a rational basis for limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples under the reasoning of the Lawrence majority opinion -- which, of course, is the prevailing law -- because “the sterile and the elderly are allowed to marry.” Thus, the government does not believe that DOMA can be justified by interests in “responsible procreation” or “child-rearing.”


Ken Harvey said...

Thanks for providing a more nuanced view of the US Justice Department's actions. We tend to see these sorts of decisions as black or white; in this case there is a goof deal of hope for LGBT people in the Administration's words, even if it is arguing that the Mass case be dropped. I remember Scalia's words in Lawrence. I believe he said that after that decision, there would be no rationale for ruling against same-sex marriage. I thought at the time, and I also think so now, that if he is a man of his words, then he will have to support us. How could he now possibly decide irrationally?

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