Obama No Longer Defending DOMA

by Stephen H. Miller on February 24, 2011

This is good news: the Obama Administration drops its defense of the Defense of Marriage Act. How this plays out in the court cases, however, remains to be seen, but at long last our “fierce advocate” isn’t actually opposing judicial efforts to secure federal recognition of state-sanctioned same-sex marriages.

Added. Will the LGBT Obama partisans (including several commenters to this blog) who for the past two years have assured us that Obama had no choice but to defend DOMA against legal challenges, that he was legally obligated to order his Justice Department to do so, and who maintained that position by dismissing those of us who pointed to contrary precedents, now admit they were wrong? Nay.

On another topic in the news, I’m reposting this update to a prior post, with a nod to what’s going on in Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana:

Here vs. There. It’s worth noting that, unlike the British Conservative party, the U.S. Republicans are under the sway of a powerful and well-organized religious right contending for influence with a more libertarian, small-government “leave us alone” faction. That’s a challenge on the right that will have to be confronted for many years to come before we see a Republican president call for “equal rights regardless of race, sex or sexuality” [as Conservative British Prime Minister David Cameron recently did].

Moreover, Britain’s Conservatives are in a governing alliance with the Liberals against the leftwing, union-dominated Labour party. But in the U.S., our traditionally liberal party, the Democrats, are now controlled to a large extent by public-sector unions. So we no longer have a pro-market liberal party. That leaves us with a rightwing party dominated by social conservatives and a leftwing party driven by redistributionist unions. Hence, our sad political predicament.

Indeed.

More. David Boaz on Madison, Wisconsin: The Athens of the West.

{ 31 comments }

Wilberforce February 24, 2011 at 5:14 am

Reality check:
US Republicans are not divided, and the small government libertarians have no power in the Party. They’re just PR to conceal the real players. The Party is composed of the religious right and large corporate interests. Both of whom insist on a huge nanny state for themselves, and are constantly attacking government services for everyone else.
And US Democrats are also dominated by corporate interests, but a more intelligent, patriotic, and pro growth variety. This is shown by Clinton and Obama’s pro growth policies, as opposed to Republican disastrous ideology.
How you can belive otherwise despite mountains of facts is incredible.

Jorge February 25, 2011 at 12:58 am

US Republicans are not divided

Now that’s news to me.

I suppose next you’re gonna tell me that blacks, unions, and social liberals are all part of one big giant rainbow, too.

Wilberforce February 25, 2011 at 1:13 am

Of course, there are divisions in everything. It’s a matter of degree. But the Republicans are not divided in the way that Miller says. One of the factions he cites, the libertarians, have no power at all. The two real factions, the religious right and big business, have minor differences, but are united in their common, sadistic delight at watching other’s suffer.
Your drawing false conclusions from a trivial point is typical of uneducated, far right ideology. Thanks for playing.

North Dallas Thirty February 27, 2011 at 7:19 pm

Which is why the Obama Party and Obama administration have to hide these “intelligent, patriotic, and pro-growth” lobbyists that daily give them their marching orders.

Not to mention the fact that this demonstrates the pathological tendency of Barack Obama and the Barack Obama Party to lie, given that they claimed they would never meet with or listen to lobbyists.

Tom February 24, 2011 at 12:15 pm

I’ll be curious to see what happens in Congress in reaction to Obama’s decision not to defend. The social conservatives are going to push hard (see the FRC “Washington Update” below), I suspect:

Never in the history of this great nation has a President so openly defied his duty to uphold and defend the law of the United States . Now, this White House is declaring war–not only on marriage–but on Congress, whose authority this President now rejects. If this congressional leadership does not intervene with the force this attack demands, then they will become complicit in behavior that is more befitting of a Middle East regime. To our friends who want nothing more than to leave these issues behind, this is what a social truce would look like. Republicans need to see this challenge for what it is: the White House, throwing down the gauntlet on marriage and declaring them irrelevant. That same piece of yellowed parchment that empowers this President is the one that demands, “He shall take care that the laws be faithfully enforced.” And where he fails, Congress must not.

As to what’s going on in Wisconsin, “union-busting” is getting the press (there’s nothing to talk about in terms of economics or budget, since the unions are on record as accepting the 8-10% pay cut involved in the bill) but Wisconsinites are slowly waking up to the “sleeper” provisions of the bill — authority for the Governor to sell state-owned power plants to the Koch brothers on a no-bid basis, authority for the Governor to make “emergency” rules changes for BadgerCare and Medicaid, which is likely to wipe out health insurance for farmers, and so on.

As local and county officials look at how the bill will operate locally and affect local budgets, they are going on record opposing it. The rural city (population 2,500) I live next-door to, run by a Republican mayor and city council, went into fast-forward mode over the weekend to conclude two union contracts and get them approved by the union and the city council on Monday night to avoid the bill. An open letter, signed by 160 elected local officials from all over the state, is circulating, telling the Governor, “Thanks, but no thanks …” for his efforts to tie their hands in dealing with their employees and leave folks without health insurance.

The bill is a fricking disaster and the utter mendacity of the Governor is becoming clearer and clearer to people.

I was to two meetings last night, and my partner a different meeting, all of them entirely unrelated to the bill, and the bill — and the Governor’s talk with fake-Koch — was all people were talking about. A lady in one of my meetings (she’s a strong social conservative, as is her husband, a farmer, both of whom voted straight Republican in this election as in the past) left the meeting to join the protests in the town square, she was so pissed off.

Two local Republican State Senators that I know reasonably well would like to vote against the bill or amend it significantly, but the Governor has made it clear to them that if they don’t get in line and swallow the bill whole, he is going to use Koch money and personally make sure that they don’t survive the next primary. One went ahead anyway and offered amendments, and the other is thinking about voting against it and retiring.

So be a bit careful before you conclude this is all about union-busting. Fox and MSNBC, drama queens that they are, may be casting this in epic terms as a fight to the death over unions, but there’s a lot more to the story.

Tom February 24, 2011 at 1:27 pm

A quick update for those interested: Senator Dale Schultz has a column in today’s Baraboo News Republic explaining the amending his going to offer. Governor Walker will no doubt make good on his promise to go after Dale, but people know him and he might be able to beat off the attack.

Jorge February 25, 2011 at 1:02 am

I really don’t care all that much. The thing that gets my attention is that the Democratic senators left the state, preventing a bill from going forward.

There was an election in Novemeber. DEAL WITH IT.

BobN February 25, 2011 at 7:46 pm

If the campaign had included taking away collective bargaining, Wisconsin would now have a Dem governor, a Dem House, and a Dem Senate.

Dishonest elections have consequences, too, Jorge.

Jorge February 26, 2011 at 2:42 am

The “if” is debatable. There’s a center-right counterargument that it was quite clear Walker was campaigning against the unions and that he going to play hardball.

But more to the point, dishonest governing has consequences, too. If the people don’t like what they’re doing, they can throw the bums out.

Jimmy February 26, 2011 at 3:24 am

It’s unlikely that the constituents of those senators are upset about their tactic. I certainly support their counterparts here in Indiana.

Tom February 26, 2011 at 9:57 am

There’s a center-right counterargument that it was quite clear Walker was campaigning against the unions and that he going to play hardball.

Maybe, but it is tough to make a case that the “hardball” contemplated by the Governor included stripping public employees of collective bargaining rights. It is not something that he so much as hinted at during the campaign.

Governor Walker made a big show during the campaign and in the election’s aftermath about how he wanted to negotiate a hard bargain with public employees, demanded that Governor Doyle not conclude the negotiations on schedule so that Walker could handle the negotiations, and so on. Nary a word about what he planned to do.

The bill took almost everyone outside Walker’s immediate circle, including Republicans in the legislature, by surprise (Walker did brief the Fitzgerald brothers, their dad and the head of the National Guard, but few others outside his immediate circle, but otherwise kept things very quiet.) I speak to people every day — people who voted for him — who feel betrayed.

But what people in Wisconsin are most pissed off about is the sense that this is being crammed down our throats. Walker introduced the bill on a Friday morning, with instructions to the legislature to pass it, unaltered, by the following Thursday, or face “dire consequences”.

That’s close to crazy. This isn’t an “adjustment” or a “repair” — it changes the game.

In addition to collective bargaining, this bill pulls unilateral power into Walker’s hands to sell state-owned power plants without bidding or oversight, and authorizes Walker to make “emergency rules” changing the game on BadgerCare and Medicaid without consultation or oversight.

As farmers learn about the latter, they are joining the fray, and Walker’s sleeze ball conversation with fake-Kock about “vested interests”, combined with the Koch brothers’ new lobbying office, quietly opened right off Capital Square last week, has most people convinced that the power plant section of the bill is yet another campaign payback, like the Bergstrom special legislation of a month ago.

Avee offered up a character reference for the Koch brothers, and I take him at his word that the Koch’s have hearts as pure as the Holy Mother’s. Hell, I almost expect them, after Avee’s testimonial, to close up the office they opened last week and turn down the opportunity to get in on the power plant deal, aghast at Walker’s mendacity.

But it is not their character that is of concern — it is Walker’s. His actions since he’s been in office — not to mention that phone call — are what call his character into question. His heart, alas, doesn’t seem quite as pure as the Koch brothers’ hearts.

Now, mind you, I am not suggesting that there is a great deal of difference between Republican politicians and Democratic politicians when it comes to responding to campaign contributions. Contributions over $25,000 or so buy access, and access means influence. I understand that, and both sides play the game.

But this isn’t Texas or Illinois, and we aren’t used to seeing the pie cut up quite so blatantly. Its like the pigs from Deadwood have moved into Madison.

North Dallas Thirty February 27, 2011 at 4:55 pm

Actually, what Tom is doing is simply trying to rationalize why he and his fellow Obama Party members are publicly comparing Scott Walker to Hosni Mubarak, Hitler, and others — after having screaming fits about “civility” before.

Meanwhile, for a party that is owned and operated by the public-sector unions for their own benefits to be screaming about the Kochs is beyond hilarious.

North Dallas Thirty February 27, 2011 at 7:03 pm

Oh, and Tom, when you and your fellow thugs go out to harass and intimidate your neighbors into posting anti-Republican signs, don’t forget to tell them that they’re homophobes if they don’t do what you say.

North Dallas Thirty February 27, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Gee, that’s funny, since unions spent millions of dollars — all taken from Wisconsin teachers under threat of them losing their jobs if they didn’t contribute — to plaster Wisconsin with flyers and advertising screaming that Scott Walker was going to abolish collective bargaining and attack unions.

This is just the latest attempt by liberals to lie their way out of their coercive behavior and avoid taking responsibility for the fact that they are making death threats against people who report union malfeasance. Tom is nothing more than a typical union liar and shill.

Wilberforce February 27, 2011 at 9:24 pm

Name calling, inventing other people’s motives, making things up, and drawing false conclusions from trivial facts, all are probably not going to fly here. You might want to look for a site that doesn’t follow the rules of logic. Just saying.

North Dallas Thirty March 2, 2011 at 3:37 am

Oh, no worries, Wilberforce; that’s why I put links in my posts.

Such as this one explaining how the LGBT community supports making death threats against Republican politicians.

Hunter February 24, 2011 at 1:53 pm

The idea that the Democratic party is “controlled to a large extent by public-sector unions” is laughable. As Wilberforce pointed out, corporate money is at least as influential, and probably much more so.

As for not having a pro-growth liberal party, can you explain why the economy does so much better under Democrats than under Republicans? Democratic government — steady growth, respectable GDP, manageable unemployment. Republican government — recession, massive unemployment, stagnant economy. (And I’m not just talking about the last ten years — this is a pattern that’s repeated itself since the New Deal, with the exception of the Eisenhower administration, and it’s doubtful if he would be accepted as a Republican these days anyway.)

You do yourself no service with statements like that.

Wilberforce February 24, 2011 at 3:52 pm

Thanks, Hunter, for pointing out that the pattern goes back for decades. I only said ‘mountains of facts’, which is too vague. It’s a critical point that should be clearly articulated and shouted from the rooftops.

North Dallas Thirty February 27, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Actually, it’s easily proven by looking at the top contributions list.

The Obama Party is little more than a puppet organization of public-sector unions, as we see from AFSCME’s incredibly-high ranking.

Meanwhile, the hilarity comes when you compare George W. Bush’s average 5% unemployment rate, which Wilberforce and his puppet Hunter shriek is “massive”, with Obama’s 9-plus percent rate, which Wilberforce and his puppet Hunter insist is “manageable”.

Furthermore, before they start shrieking that Obama “inherited” a recession, they should also remember….so did Reagan and so did George W. Bush.

But again, we can’t expect Obama Party members to make rational judgments. Obama Party members are devoted to “party uber alles” and thus cannot make intelligent choices; they must always support the Party and do whatever the Party says. It gets doubly bad when you have gays and lesbians, who simply are mentally incapable of disagreeing with the Obama Party or actually participating in society in any meaningful fashion.

avee February 24, 2011 at 7:12 pm

The idea that the Democratic party is “controlled to a large extent by public-sector unions” is laughable.

Give me a break. On what other issue have Democrats hid out of state in order to avoid letting legislative GOP majorities vote the people’s will? These Democratic legislators aren’t representing the taxpayers; they’re doing the bidding of the public sector unions that funnel taxpayer money into Democrat campaigns. Follow the money.

Wilberforce February 25, 2011 at 1:19 am

By that logic, gay people must control the Presidency, since he took the political risk not to defend doma, and we must control the congress, since dadt was repealed.
Furthermore, it’s not about the budget. The unions made every concession required, and the Governer created this shortfall by passing a huge tax cut.
How you people can draw false conclusions from jerry rigged data is absolutely incredible.

North Dallas Thirty February 27, 2011 at 4:37 pm

The unions made every concession required, and the Governer created this shortfall by passing a huge tax cut.

Actually, Wilberforce, you are lying, and even Politifact had to admit that.

But we can’t expect a gay and lesbian person like you or Rachel Maddow to be intelligent. You’re really nothing more than party shills, repeating back what the public sector unions tell you to do. There’s no thought or analysis involved, and you’re simply not capable of either anyway.

Houndentenor February 24, 2011 at 8:25 pm

Really? It seems to me the GOP is doing the bidding of the Koch Brothers. If the unions really are busted, do you honestly think things will get better for American workers?

Houndentenor February 24, 2011 at 8:27 pm

No one should defend DOMA. There’s nothing to defend. Liberals don’t like DOMA and conservatives are smart enough to realize that upholding the law means the federal government can override the states. There’s no rational basis for defending the law.

avee February 25, 2011 at 12:39 pm

the GOP is doing the bidding of the Koch Brothers.

Oh, spare me the lame Daily Koz talking points. From Power Line:

It is remarkable that…businessmen who run one of the world’s most respected companies, have created many thousands of jobs and vast amounts of wealth, and have paid taxes in amounts that are incomprehensible to the rest of us, are demonized for pointing out the obvious benefits of free enterprise. It is a sad fact, but this is what the Democratic Party and its minions have been reduced to. Liberals should be ashamed of the smears they have directed against the Kochs, but shame is an emotion of which many liberals are no longer capable.

Wilberforce February 25, 2011 at 10:21 pm

Free enterprise is only one piece of the mixed economy. But I’m not going to explain the basics of the modern economy here. It would be too boring. Try opening a book next time before posting tripe on a serious website.
Also, I think I heard somewhere that the Kochs made their pile from government contracts. If true, your worship of these ‘respected businessmen’ is a trifle off kilter.
Far right ideology is so far off the scale, it’s like a fanatsy world.

Jimmy February 26, 2011 at 3:14 am

The punking of Gov. Walker displayed the extent of the Koch Bros. reach. The punkers had no problem getting access to the governor when it was believed by his aides that they were legit, access that no regular state citizen could expect. This prank may have opened a few eyes in Wisconsin with regard to whose interests its chief executive is really serving.

avee February 25, 2011 at 10:25 pm

If the unions really are busted, do you honestly think things will get better for American workers?

There is a world of distinction between public sector (government worker) unions and private sector unions. The latter have a role in seeing that for-profit companies share their profits with workers. Government is not a for-profit enterprise, and workers should not expect to ride high on the hog in goverment service. That’s why it’s known as public service. Yet today goverment workers have pay and benefits higher than their private sector counterparts, we the taxpayers who don’t have pensions and health care that we don’t have to contribute to.

FDR warned that public sector workers should never be given collective bargaining rights precisely because the government is not a profit-generating enterprise. If they don’t like what government can reasonably afford to pay, they should seek employment in the private for-profit sector. Governments are drowning in red ink (and yes, it’s because public sector unions are a main funder of the Democratic party, which has paid them off with excessive compensation and benefits, and work rules that make it impossible to fire the worst of the worst).

This is the awful system that you are defending, Houndentenor and Wilberforce (and thanks for insulting my intelligence, W, real classy).

Wilberforce February 26, 2011 at 5:21 am

And thank you for the new batch of falsehoods.
Governments are not in debt because of unions, but because of the recession that your free marketeers caused. And they can’t seek employment in the private sector because, maybe you haven’t heard, there are no jobs there now. And so what if they have good benefits? They also made all the concessions required to balance the budget.
Again, this isn’t about balancing the budget, despite your attempt to paint it that way. It’s about the Kock brothers spending tons of cash to elect the gov. and getting a quid pro quo of union busting.
I’m sorry, but if you repeat crude and obvious falsehoods, you have to expect either your intelligence or integrity to be questioned.

North Dallas Thirty February 27, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Actually, that particular spin has also been debunked. Money quote:

Many state and local government employees have been promised pensions that the public couldn’t have afforded even had there been no crash.

And why did that happen?

The situation won’t be so dire if the plans earn more on their investments than expected. But with the plans typically counting on annual returns near 8%, or twice the “risk-free” level suggested by some analysts, it seems just as likely that they’ll earn less than that, forcing local governments to contribute even more.

So the Obama Party cooked the books and made up a return rate that no private investor or investment firm would ever countenance.

You just keep demonstrating that you only repeat union talking points, Wilberforce. Again, no surprise; gay and lesbian liberals like yourself aren’t capable of doing much else, but still, could you at least try to educate yourself before posting?

Jorge February 26, 2011 at 2:55 am

You know, except for money, benefits, a built in mentoring and community support system, stand-ins to get in your bosses’ faces, and occasional blue collar-blooded operas in baritone, there’s a good chance I would have more protections that matter to me under state labor laws than under my current union contract.

It’s truly amazing how tone deaf unions act sometimes. It’s really the bigger picture that’s most distressing. Obviously unions are going to fight their best on some things, win or lose, that benefit their members directly. But what do the unions do when they’re not fighting? They’re putting their energy into the political machine, trying to feed a dying partisan mindset. They choose not to lend their leadership and intellect toward where it will make this country better for its members.

Look at what the Republicans say about unions: they stifle innovation and inefficiency with their obstinance. Unions are like this all the time. It gets tiring to listen to. I don’t mind a shadow management, but I don’t want an anti-management.

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