Schwarzenegger on Prop 8, Obama on Domestic Partners Benefits
As this week marked the bittersweet one-year anniversary of legal gay marriage in California, two political leaders made big moves in the advancement of gay rights.
In California, Governor Schwarzenegger on Tuesday decided not to defend the constitutionality of Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage, in a federal court case. Disappointing traditional marriage advocates, he said it will be up to the courts to decide because the case "presents important constitutional questions that require and warrant judicial determination."
The suit, which could possibly hit the U.S. Supreme Court, states that “this unequal treatment of gays and lesbians denies them the basic liberties and equal protection under the law that are guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution." Representing gay couples are former U.S. Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson and David Boies, former rivals in the Bush v. Gore Supreme Court case.
Yesterday, President Barack Obama officially announced his support for the Domestic Partners Benefits and Obligations Act of 2009, which would extend to the same-sex partners of Federal employees the same benefits already enjoyed by the opposite-sex spouses of Federal employees. This act would go against the infamous DOMA, a campaign promise he made. "I stand by my long-standing commitment to work with Congress to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act," he said in a statement. "It's discriminatory, it interferes with States' rights, and it's time we overturned it."
While the act makes its way through congress, Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum directing the Secretary of State and the Director of the Office of Personnel Management to extend benefits to same-sex partners of Federal employees where it is legally possible, considering the constraints of DOMA and other Federal laws.