During a round-table session called “Open for Questions with President Obama” on Wednesday President Obama said that the courts represent the best chance of overturning the Defense of Marriage Act and, with a case in federal court right now, the issue will be settled “fairly soon.”
This response came after Gabriel Lerner, senior news editor for AOL Latino, asked what the Obama administration is doing to help bi-national same-sex couples who currently face being separated because DOMA restrictions mean that American citizens cannot sponsor their foreign born partners.
Here’s a transcript of the exchange:
MR. LERNER: Mr. President, on the Defense of Marriage Act, also called DOMA, this comes from Kevin in North Carolina. He says: I’m a gay American who fell in love with a foreigner. As you know, due to DOMA, I’m not permitted to sponsor my foreign-born partner for residency. And as a result, we are stuck between a rock and an impossible situation. How do you intend to fix this? Waiting for DOMA to be repealed or struck down in the courts will potentially take years. What do binational couples do in the meantime?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we made a decision that was a very significant decision, based on my assessment of the Constitution, that this administration would not defend DOMA in the federal courts. It’s not going to be years before this issue is settled. This is going to be settled fairly soon, because right now we have cases pending in the federal courts.
Administratively, we can’t ignore the law. DOMA is still on the books. What we have said is even as we enforce it, we don’t support it, we think it’s unconstitutional. The position that my administration has taken I think will have a significant influence on the court as it examines the constitutionality of this law. And once that law is struck down — and I don’t know what the ruling will be — then addressing these binational issues could flow from that decision, potentially.
I can’t comment on where the case is going to go. I can only say what I believe, and that is that DOMA doesn’t make sense; it’s unfair; I don’t think that it meets the demands of our Constitution. And in the meantime, if — I’ve already said that I’m also supportive of Congress repealing DOMA on it’s own and not waiting for the courts. The likelihood of us being able to get the votes in the House of Representatives for DOMA repeal are very low at this point so, truthfully, the recourse to the courts is probably going to be the best approach.
This is an excerpt of a transcript of the entire session provided on the White House website, which you can find here.
This comes after Democratic House lawmakers again sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner urging that he allow a briefing on his court defense of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). You can read more about that here.