Fri February 25, 2011
Texas AG Responds to President's DOMA Decision
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has weighed in on President Obama's decision to no longer have the U.S. Justice Department defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act banning recognition of same-sex marriage.
The move by the President has garnered plenty of response by conservatives. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich even mentioned the President could be impeached for his decision. Mr. Abbott was not quite as strong with his language. But did point to several cases where courts rejected the claim that the Constitution requires recognition of same-sex marriages.
Federal and state laws defining marriage as the union of one man and woman have existed throughout our history and are undoubtedly constitutional. In Baker v. Nelson, the Supreme Court unanimously rejected the claim that the Constitution requires recognition of same-sex marriages. And the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th and DC Circuits have all refused to treat sexual orientation as a suspect classification that triggers heightened scrutiny.
President Obama’s refusal to defend DOMA not only departs from these legal precedents, it also departs from the Department of Justice's longstanding practice of defending all federal statutes in court, regardless of the President’s personal beliefs about the meaning of the Constitution. The President's actions embrace the philosophy of "living constitutionalism," the view that empowers judges and legal elites to trump democratically enacted legislation that conflicts with their ideological preferences.
Although President Obama has abdicated his duty to defend federal marriage laws in court, this office will continue to respect the Defense of Marriage Act and will vigorously defend Texas's marriage laws in court.
Abbott has had to deal with a couple of same-sex cases in Texas. Both were couples legally married in other states asking for a divorce in Texas. The A.G. says since the marriages were deemed invalid in Texas the state can't recognize them to allow a divorce.