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Mayors criticize Justice Department support for Defense of Marriage Act [Updated]


With the Obama administration facing growing discontent among gay supporters, the mayors of Los Angeles and San Francisco joined in voicing concern today about a new U.S. Justice Department brief supporting the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

"I think it's a big mistake," San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said shortly before he and his Los Angeles counterpart, Antonio Villaraigosa, kicked off the annual L.A. Pride parade in West Hollywood.

The 1996 law bars the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages and enables states to refuse to recognize such marriages from other states. The Justice Department enraged leaders of gay rights groups Thursday by filing a lengthy defense of the law in a federal lawsuit in which its constitutional validity is challenged.

Newsom and Villaraigosa, potential rivals in next year's Democratic primary for governor, were both careful to avoid direct criticism of President Obama, who pledged during his campaign for the White House to repeal the marriage law.

"I'm concerned about some of the arguments being made by the Justice Department," Villaraigosa said.

Gay rights groups were more blunt. Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund, called the administration's defense of the law unacceptable.

"Unfortunately, the malicious and outrageous arguments and language used in the Justice Department's brief [are] only serving to inflame and malign the humanity of same-sex couples and our families," Carey said.

Representatives of neither the White House nor the Justice Department were immediately available for comment.

[Updated at 1:22 p.m.: White House spokesman Shin Inouye said the Justice Department, in submitting the brief, was following its normal practice of defending a law on the books in court.

"The President has said he wants to see a legislative repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act because it prevents LGBT couples from being granted equal rights and benefits," Inouye said of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender couples.

"However, until Congress passes legislation repealing the law, the administration will continue to defend the statute when it is challenged in the justice system."]

--Michael Finnegan reporting from West Hollywood

Related story: L.A. gay pride parade darkened by U.S. stance on marriage

Photo: Christina House / For The Times

Interact140 Interactive map of milestones in the gay marriage battle and how state laws have changed since 2000

Comments () | Archives (65)

If there's anyone who has authority on marriage, it is two Mayors known for violating marriage vows.

Same-sex marriage is an oxymoron. It would be like having a GSA that promoted only materials from NARTH. Don't hijack words.


1. Given the difficulty Newsome & Villaraigosa have had keeping their pants on, at least their attack on the DOMA is consistent with their personal ethics.

2. The Fed Gov't defended DOMA because a) it is the law and b) the DOJ believes in upholding the law whether it is politically correct to do so or not. That unlike the CA AG, Jerry Brown, who picks and chooses which laws he wants to support based on his personal preference.

There is other better things for obama to worry about like our failing economy. I am a college student fearing that when I graduate there may not even be a job for me to get. People are wasting too much time and energy on this. The people voted, and we are democracy, not a communist nation.

The rights of minorities are NOT secured by the tyranny of the majority. The whole point of the court system is to ensure FAIR and EQUAL treatment of everyone.

Should slavery be legal just because the South voted for it? Popular sovereignty, after all...

The two mayors that shows no respect for any laws or vows. Are simply representing their true colors.

They both vowed to protect the interest of Americans, both dont.

Both took an oath to uphold the law, they dont

Both have established sanctuary cities, both harbor gang members that may be here illegally, both have divorced in controversy.

Both show a lack of ethics, both are engaged in political games, trying to set themselves up for what they think will be an easy victory as Governor. Playing to what ever crowd they think will keep them in whatever power they think they have.

But both forget that history will determine the legacy off the character, not the words. If they are remembered at all. Which I doubt they will.

The great ones always landed on the side of democracy which reflects the majority concept of government. Not manipulating the board to keep you in office.

I think this is going to end up being in front of the supreme court. People voted against gays having rights to marry. People voted against integration of schools. People voted against interracial marriages. People voted against blacks having the ability to vote or own land. It seems the only real progress comes from the supreme court in this country.

All of you Gay and Lesbian Obama worshippers gave him all your votes, your money, your time , your energy, your bumpers for his stickers and your hope. He stole your hope, lied to you and intends on giving you nothing back. Deal with it people. You've been had!! It is interesting to see that our new black President, and his new Black Attorney General only intend on respecting and enforcing civil rights for their own black people and no one else. The legendary homophobia in the Black America is alive and well. What hypocrites they are!

"Same-sex marriage is an oxymoron. It would be like having a GSA that promoted only materials from NARTH. Don't hijack words."

Idiot-savant would be an oxymoron.Same sex marriage is not.Beleive me your are not the savant part but the other part of the oxymoron i just mentioned.Get my drift?I love preachers who dont know what they are talking about and too lazy to pick up a dictionary or thesaurus..

Obama and Villaraigosa should not fight for gay marriage in california. The voters here have spoken more than once against this. Why should a smaller group of people whine and whine and be allowed to get their way? Our elected officials should enforce the laws.

Defending laws already on the books???? What a load of crap! President Obama has lied to our community and it's high time we recognized we have been had. Obama has no intention of helping the gay community and never has. Believe me, I am kicking my own butt because I was fool enough to buy into his "hope" mendacity and now he has stolen our hope too. Will people in this country never tire of hatred?

Oh BTW....Ken...you are a fool and a jerk!

The notion that the rights of a section of out society hinges on the dictionary definition of a single word is ludicrous. Let's pass civil union legislation (which would get broad support) that guarantees all the same rights of marriage (different but equal, not separate but equal) and be done with it.

And while we're at it, let's give the rainbow back to our children.

Kevin, take a civics lesson. The "people" did not vote on DOMA, the US Congress did. The people voted on Prop HATE. And if you were gay or lesbian in a committed relationship, and DOMA prevented your partner from getting 1,100 federal benefits, including your working partner's health and social security benefits, you too would be outraged by the Obama administration's vigorous defense of DOMA. I guess when you already have equal access to every federal marriage benefit, you could care less that about 10 percent of the population that does not, based simply on who they are and how they were born.

Bravo Newsom and Villaraigosa! Hope one off them challenges do nothing Obama in 2012 in the democratic primary.

Newsome, Villaraigosa, Pelosi, Feinstien an boxer must GO.

Just another day in the spotlight for both Mayors to promote their agendas. They weren't there to help gay marriage.

You must always remember of this nation: It is of the minority, by the minority, and for the minority. They even invented the word POPULIST as a derogatory of the MAJORITY. Then when the majority seeks to rule they overturn it either de facto or dejure depending on what it takes. What is needed is a whole new constitution based on majority rule instead of the opposite. Kyle

Marriage is not a right, it's a privilege recognized by the government, much like a driver's license. If gays want marriage they have to convince the people, not run to judges to enact their agenda. Remember, if you can find a judge to give "you" something, then I can find a judge to take it back. Liberals, stop hiding behind courts and talk to the people. You'd be surprised how reasonable they really are.

The US Congress is an elected body of representatives and as such, their votes represent the people. Just as Californians voted twice to limit marriage between a man and a woman, this is democracy at work. We are a democratic country, not a socialist country.

The Obama DOJ argues that the federal DOMA preserves "neutrality" in this "volatile" area of marriage equality for gays and lesbians.

This is nonsense.

The U.S. Constitution guarantees equal protection for everyone, including gays and lesbians. The DOJ should be defending the Constitution, not the DOMA.

Obama abandoned gays and lesbians when he crawled into bed with Rev. Rick Warren at the inauguration.

The only thing the Obama Administration understands is pressure. Remember how quickly they abandoned their idea of moving Guantanamo prisoners to prisons in the US.

If they are not with us, they are against us.

Remember that.

I still do not understand the reasoning behind "gay marriage" in California. The No on Prop 8 supporters simply did not make their case – it makes no sense to me. There are too many important unanswered questions that are the size of elephants in a room.

One of the more interesting truths about so-called "gay marriage" is the fact that gays actually don't marry all that much where it is legal. Only 10% of gays get married in such places as Massachusetts, Canada, Belgium, and Netherlands. There is low demand and low motivation among the gay community to actually marry. Therefore, the reason gays vociferously protest for the formality of "marriage" must go beyond their interest in the institution itself. For the record, two-thirds (66%) of all heterosexuals enter into marriage (married, separated, divorced, or widowed).

So far, in California, approximately 18,000 "same-sex marriages" occurred. That's about 36,000 gays out of an estimated community of over 1 million. Admittedly, California stats are tough to analyze given the quirky political climate the past year. You have pent-up demand but you also had a lot of uncertainty. Typically, where gay "marriage" is legal (see Massachusetts, Connecticut, etc.) you have an initial surge that drops off dramatically in subsequent years and levels off at 5% to 15% of the total gay population that marries. (note: I assume approximately 2% to 4% of the state's population would identify itself as gay.)

In other words, approximately 90% of gays choose (prefer) not to "marry". As a result, less than 0.5% of an entire population will require this "re-definition" of the historical, traditional institution of marriage. 99.5% of the population of a state/nation has no need for redefining marriage and "civil unions/partnerships" are perfectly acceptable to gays. Unless, of course, there's more at stake than actual "marriage" which would only imply some kind of “hidden agenda”.

So what's my point? Other than the obvious points above, the data suggests the following:

1) There is a substantive and profound natural difference between gay vs. straight sexual relationships. Hence, different terms to define the "relationship". There's something about opposite sexes having a much more natural desire to "marry" than "same-sex". Empirically, we know opposite sex unions are fundamentally different and functionally superior to the partnership of two identical genders. Obviously, opposite sex unions with the complexity of complimentary genders, husband/wife roles, ability to produce life, and the creation of father/mother relationships, sets them apart from same sex partnerships. It's comparing apples to oranges (i.e. "unequal"). Americans intuitively recognize that same-sex partnerships vs. opposite-sex unions are inherently separate and unequal.

2) The issue of "marriage" is not the real driving force behind No on Prop 8 supporters. It appears to be a red herring or possibly a "front" for some other "unspoken" issues. Maybe it's the "symbolism" of marriage, not the reality? If so, this is where gays lose credibility in their protests and appear disingenuous about their real motives. Also, the recent gay intimidation, harassment, and open persecution of Prop 8 supporters reveals their long term intentions to restrict the free exercise of religion and stifle free speech. Let's be honest here – who can deny there is a fundamental clash of opposing moral visions?

3) Elton John just makes way too much sense to me:
"We're not married. Let's get that right. We have a civil partnership. What is wrong with No on Proposition 8 is that they went for marriage. Marriage is going to put a lot of people off, the word marriage."
"I don't want to be married. I'm very happy with a civil partnership. If gay people want to get married, or get together, they should have a civil partnership," John says. "The word 'marriage,' I think, puts a lot of people off.
"You get the same equal rights that we do when we have a civil partnership. Heterosexual people get married. We can have civil partnerships."

Essentially, there is no harm and no injury to gays while defining marriage as a union between a husband and wife. Elton John apparently lives a happy and free life. He certainly doesn't play the victim card. And there's no comparison to what the blacks suffered in America.

By the way, is Elton John a hate-filled homophobic bigot?

4) Gays are insecure about their own morality. Let's assume I'm an atheist and I think morality is in your own head. Then it's your guilt-trip not mine. There is no moral or value judgment being placed on a civil union vs. marriage. It's a definitional issue. Heck, for all I know, maybe civil unions are more righteous - who really cares? The gay community comes across as very insecure about their own morality. Perhaps this issue in the minds of gays is all about “moral equality” not marriage equality? If so, then the gays vs. religious are both engaging in the same moral play (i.e. defining foundational values). Hypothetically speaking, as an atheist, I find this debate silly and I find gay activists far more concerned about pushing their own moral agenda than they are willing to admit (i.e. transgenderism, alternative family constructs, sexual adventurism, etc.).

5) Finally, will the supporters of No on Prop 8 please describe the harm and injury gays suffer because I label the gay partnership a "civil union"? Again, what is the harm to gays because I hold to the historical definition of marriage as the union of husband and wife? Please provide specifics and examples of your injuries – make your case – how are gays injured? So far, the silence has been deafening.

The advocacy for "gay marriage" appears to be mostly a self-image issue for gays (i.e. psychic pain, deep insecurities, inferiority complex, etc.). It certainly isn't about the loss of housing, education, employment, opportunity, health, integration, relationships, love, and sex. There's just no observable lack of freedom and opportunity for the gay community. Please spare me the comparisons to the plight of African-Americans. About the best one can do is compare gays to the plight of other self-identified minorities such as atheists, bisexuals, communists, nudists, Jehovah Witnesses, vegans, Muslims, transvestites, polygamists, etc. who feel they are misunderstood by the majority.

Are we obligated to redefine our institutions only to accommodate everyone's self-image, emotional issues, morality, and eccentricities for the sake of inclusion? Is that even remotely possible? Where do you draw the line on inclusion? And who sets the boundaries? What foundational values unite us? Where do our inalienable rights come from – society or our Creator? Either way, doesn't the Prop 8 victory only confirm that society, history, and religion are all in agreement as to the definition of marriage?

Bottom line: Gay marriage is on the wrong side of history, irrational, unnecessary, and will never be embraced as a legitimate institution in society. Gay marriage will only introduce extraordinary confusion into our culture. Though it may be autocratically coerced (i.e. via court system edicts), gay marriage will never be truly accepted in the hearts and minds of a civilization without sound reasoning and the underpinnings of great moral wisdom. Try as they may, gay marriage will never achieve the same consensual acceptance as that which exists for ethnic and racial civil liberties – there’s just no comparison.

I am so tired of these idiots trying to play sides only to gain a victory as governor. Villaraigosa, can not even handle his affairs with the City of Los Angeles. Now he thinks the resididents of LA will vote for him if he runs for governor.

You must be kidding me, LA workers after having to take furlough days will never, I repeat, never vote for such a crook, ever.

Wake up people, they are only playing you to win a victory.

And as far as the president is concerned, why is everyone involving the president, it was California votes who voted?

Theese two men commtted adultery. Their opinion of what marriage is, by two men who both have no respect for their own marriages is irrelevant.

A marriage is between one man and one woman.

Off topic, but these two are the Sanctuary City mayor twins, so I like seeing them in the same photo ops, Villaribozo with his goofy idiot grin and Newsom with his blank 'I'd rather be banging my best friend/chief aide's wife' stare.

Both mayors Bozo and Newsom have blood on their hands for allowing known illegal alien gang criminals to operate openly on the streets. But let's vote one of them Guv so we can have illegal alien gangs operating hassle free all over the State.

Calling me names in no way makes your case that we are obligated to neuter state marriage licensing. We are not, so you simply make emotional appeals and call names.

Follow my link for some actual logic.

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