Department of Justice to no Longer Defend DOMA

February 23, 2011 ( – U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that President Obama has made the determination that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), 1 U.S.C. § 7, as applied to same-sex couples who are legally married under state law, violates the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment.

“[W]hile both the wisdom and the legality of Section 3 of DOMA will continue to be the subject of both extensive litigation and public debate, this Administration will no longer assert its constitutionality in court,” Holder said in a statement.  

In a letter to Congress, Holder said the President has instructed the Justice Department not to defend the statute in two cases currently before the Second Circuit – Pedersen v. OPM and Windsor v. United States.  

OPM also faces a lawsuit filed by a California attorney after the government agency refused to provide benefits to the attorney’s same-sex spouse (see Lawyer Sues Fed over Same-Sex Benefits). The agency said it wouldn’t follow a court order to provide the benefits because it believes the order is in violation of DOMA.  

Holder’s letter to Congress is here.