Obama Silent on Landmark Rulings—and Appeals

DOJ appeals ruling in Massachusetts DOMA case; also likely to appeal DADT ruling

In a move that surprises no one, particularly the LGBT community and DADT repeal activists, the Obama administration is expected to appeal the federal judge’s ruling that struck down the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

The Department of Justice has issued a letter explaining that while they formally oppose the DADT policy, they are legally obligated to defend any law that is crafted and passed by the United States Congress. The DOJ is expected to ask for an emergency stay on the injunction striking down DADT. Judge Virginia Philips, who ruled on the original case challenging DADT, is expected to deny the request.

The Department of Justice will then have to attach the request for a stay to their actual appeal and file it with the 9th Circuit Court where Philips sits. After the appeal is formally filed, a three-judge panel will be immediately empaneled in an effort to rule on the appeal and the stay as soon as possible.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gateson Wednesday claimed that halting “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as outlined in Phillips’ ruling would have “enormous consequences” for the military in a time of war.

“I feel very strongly that this is an action that needs to be taken by the Congress, and that it is an action that requires careful preparation and a lot of training,” Gates said.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Justice filed notices of appeal in two different cases that struck down as unconstitutional the federal definition of marriage as written into the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act.

The two cases were Gill v. Office of Personnel Management and Massachusetts v. Department of Health and Human Services. A U.S. district court judge found Section 3 of the federal DOMA unconstitutional on several grounds, finding particularly that the marriage definition violated the equal protection and due process guarantees, as well as the Spending Clause and the Tenth Amendment.

Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), which argued the Gill case for the plaintiffs, issued a statement moments after the government’s filing.

“We fully expected an appeal and are more than ready to meet it head on,” Mary L. Bonauto, GLAD’s civil rights project director, said in the statement. “DOMA brings harm to families like our plaintiffs every day, denying married couples and their children basic protections like health insurance, pensions, and Social Security benefits. We are confident in the strength of our case.”

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