National

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Update: Obama won’t defend law banning federal recognition of gay marriage

The Obama administration made a blockbuster announcement Wednesday, saying it has concluded that one part of the Defense of Marriage Act will not be able to pass constitutional muster in the 2nd Circuit and that DOJ would not defend that part of the law in two pending cases in that circuit.

It was a dramatic, unexpected, and significant move by the Obama administration and one that could trigger maneuvers by DOMA supporters to appoint an intervenor to defend the law. But beyond the eventual legal consequences of the announcement, the political impact was characterized by most LGBT leaders as historic and monumental.

“This is a monumental turning point in the history of the quest for equality for lesbian, gay and bisexual people,” said Jon Davidson, legal director for Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund.

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Breaking: Obama to stop defending DOMA

President Barack Obama signed into law the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010 this week

The Human Rights Campaign is reporting that the Obama administration will stop its defense of Section 3 the "Defense of Marriage Act," the federal law that denies rights to legally married same-sex couples as well as allowing states to not recognize gay marriage.

“This is a monumental decision for the thousands of same-sex couples and their families who want nothing more than the same rights and dignity afforded to other married couples,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese in a press release.  “As the President has stated previously, DOMA unfairly discriminates against Americans and we applaud him for fulfilling his oath to defend critical constitutional principles.”

The Washington Post is also reporting the news.

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By the numbers: Faith & Religion

60 Percent of gay adults who describe faith as “very important” to them, compared to 72 percent of heterosexuals. 70 Percent of gay adults who identify as Christian (85 percent for heterosexuals). 27 Percent of...
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Prop 8: Cali. Supreme Court to hear arguments on standing

The California Supreme Court will weigh into the Proposition 8 battle after a three judge panel from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court said it could not rule on the on-going case until it knew whether or not the law's backers had the legal standing to defend the law in court.

A Tweet sent by American Foundation for Equal Rights late this afternoon read: “Calif. Supreme Court to hear #Prop8 case with expedited schedule. Oral arguments as soon as Sept 2011."

Supporters of the marriage ban were challenging a lower court's ruling that struck down the law last August as unconstitutional because it violated equal protection guarantees. State officials, including then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and former Attorney General Jerry Brown, refused to appeal Judge Vaughn Walker's ruling. A supporters group appealed the ruling after the state refused to do so.

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By the numbers: Valentine’s Day

581,300

Estimated gay couples in the United States as of 2009.

6

U.S. jurisdictions that currently allow gay marriage: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont, and the District of Columbia.

6

States that give benefits to same-sex couples under a different label like “civil union” or domestic partnership: California, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington, Illinois.

29

States with constitutional amendments banning gay marriage. Georgia passed a constitutional gay marriage ban in 2004.

28

Nations that grant more rights to same-sex couples than the United States, ranging from marriage to domestic partner recognition.