White House challenges gay marriage ban

August 17, 2009 1:42:41 PM PDT
The Obama administration took a landmark action, over the federal government's ban on same-sex marriage. The administration filed court papers saying the law is unfair and discriminates against gays.

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A San Francisco professor believes that Obama is trying to put pressure on Congress to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and get it off the books.

Gay marriage in California has always been a controversial issue. It hit a new level with the passage of Proposition 8. Now the Obama administration wants to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, citing that it's discriminatory to gay couples. However the Obama administration said that it still plans to defend the act until it is repealed.

This is a kind of a middle of the road stance that some politicians take according to one San Francisco law professor; a way to exert pressure on Congress to take another look at the 1996 act. Right now, gay couples can not file a joint federal tax return or collect social security spousal benefits.

Obama's move may make few people happy.

"Neither side is going to be happy with this, because the brief today does make the claim that same sex marriage ban is discriminatory and that is going to anger those who oppose same sex marriage, but at the same time, they are defending the ban on marriage as a technical matter and that is going to really upset the gay activists," said Julie Nice, Ph.D. USF Law School.

The professor went on to say that the Justice Department does have the power to step in and not defend the federal marriage act if they choose. It appears in this case that Obama will put that decision in the hands of Congress. The professor said that could be a very difficult fight.

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