White House responds to DOMA petition

Thank you for taking the time to participate in the “We the People” petition process. We launched this online tool as a way of hearing directly from you, and are pleased to see that it has been effective in soliciting your feedback.

We understand your interest in the petition to support a repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”). As you may know, DOMA was enacted into law in 1996. Section 3 of DOMA provides a federal definition of marriage as a legal union between a man and a woman, and thus, prevents the federal government from recognizing marriages between same-sex couples for federal purposes. President Obama believes that DOMA is discriminatory and runs counter to the Constitution. He has long supported its repeal through the legislative process, and he supports the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal DOMA and is currently pending in both Houses of Congress. And earlier this year, the President and the Attorney General announced their determination that Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional. The President instructed the Department of Justice to stop defending the constitutionality of that provision in the courts, and since that time, the Department has informed courts that it believes that Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional.

President Obama’s strong opposition to DOMA is in line with his personal commitment to equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans as well as his Administration’s record. Early in his administration, the President signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law, which expanded the existing hate crimes law to include crimes committed based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The President also issued a presidential memorandum requiring that all hospitals in receipt of Medicare and Medicaid funding—most hospitals in the United States— must provide equal visitation rights to gay and lesbian partners and spouses. Most recently, the President signed into law the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (“DADT”), ending the decades-long struggle to allow gays and lesbians to serve in the armed forces without having to lie about who they are. As the President recently said at the Human Rights Campaign 15th Annual Dinner, DOMA should join DADT in the history books. These are just some of the steps the Obama Administration has taken to address LGBT rights.

Thank you for participating in this important process to hear from every American, and thank you for your commitment to equality – a commitment which President Obama shares. We appreciate your opinions and look forward to hearing from you again soon.

For more information on President Obama’s policies regarding the LGBT community, check out WhiteHouse.gov/LGBT and sign up for updates.