The Obama Administration's New Position on Same-Sex Marriages


Under current federal law, individuals recognized as same-sex spouses under state law are not considered married for purposes of federal law. This has ramifications in a number of areas, such as federal income taxation and rights to certain benefits under qualified pension plans.

On February 23, 2011, Attorney General Eric Holder issued a letter to Congress announcing that the Obama administration will no longer defend the constitutionality of section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act ("DOMA"), which defines the terms "spouse" and "marriage" for purposes of all federal laws and administrative actions.

Under section 3 of DOMA:

- A "spouse" is defined as a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or wife; and

- "Marriage" is defined as a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife

The Obama administration's view, as expressed in Attorney General Holder's letter, is that definitions based on sexual orientation merit a heightened level of judicial scrutiny, and under such scrutiny, section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional as applied to same-sex couples legally married under state law. Therefore, the Department of Justice will not defend section 3 of DOMA in two current lawsuits challenging its constitutionality.

Please see full Alert below for further information.

LOADING PDF: If there are any problems, click here to download the file.

Written by:

Published In:

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Reed Smith | Attorney Advertising

Don't miss a thing! Build a custom news brief:

Read fresh new writing on compliance, cybersecurity, Dodd-Frank, whistleblowers, social media, hiring & firing, patent reform, the NLRB, Obamacare, the SEC…

…or whatever matters the most to you. Follow authors, firms, and topics on JD Supra.

Create your news brief now - it's free and easy »

All the intelligence you need, in one easy email:

Great! Your first step to building an email digest of JD Supra authors and topics. Log in with LinkedIn so we can start sending your digest...

Sign up for your custom alerts now, using LinkedIn ›

* With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name.