Monday, August 24, 2009

Federal Judge Throws Out Defense of Marriage Act Case That Caused Tension Between Obama and LGBT Population

A federal judge today has thrown out a case that is challenging the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) due to a technicality. The Smelt case was filed by a Californian couple claiming that DOMA discriminates against gays and lesbians and consequentially, is unconstitutional.

The Washington Post reports:
U.S. District Judge David O. Carter ruled the case - the first of several pending challenges to the federal Defense of Marriage Act - must be refiled in federal court.

Carter said the suit had been improperly filed in state court before it was transferred to his jurisdiction. As a result, the judge said, he would not entertain arguments on its merits, at least not yet.

"There is no point for us to go down the line of decision-making and waste time," he said during the hearing in Santa Ana.
The case caused a huge rift between the LGBT population and the Obama administration when the Department of Justice filed a brief which invoked incest and pedophilia when categorizing same-sex marriage, declaring that it was not in the best interest of the government to recognize such relationships.

A more recent brief filed by the DOJ on the case attempted to make amends by stating the Obama administration believes that DOMA is in fact discriminatory and should be repealed, a stance taken by Obama during his campaign. This was met with mixed reaction from the LGBT population. Though many were happy that for the first time the administration was on court record as being against the legislation, the DOJ went on to defend it, furthering the contradictions exhibited by the administration on LGBT rights since coming to power near eight months ago.

Alliance Defense Fund attorney, Brian Raum, who is working with the government to defend DOMA, stated that Carter had grounds to dismiss the case.

The federal government cannot be sued in state courts, Raum said.

Smelt and Hammer's lawsuit could be back in a federal court in a matter of months, when "ultimately it will come down to the merits," he said.

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