Sunday, June 21, 2009

Jonathan Capehart - For Obama, a Hit and a Miss On Gay Rights -

Jonathan Capehart - For Obama, a Hit and a Miss On Gay Rights - "Obama has only himself to blame for this. The first substantive comment on gay and lesbian equality since he took office was the Justice Department's noxious brief in Arthur Smelt and Christopher Hammer v. United States of America, and it fueled suspicion that the president was backpedaling on his promises. It didn't have to be that way. The department could have fulfilled its obligation to defend the nation's laws without repeating ugly reasoning rooted in ignorance.
The Justice Department could have stopped with its sound argument that the case should be dismissed because the plaintiffs did not 'claim to have plans to seek recognition of their . . . California marriage in another state' and they 'do not suggest that they have applied for any federal benefits, much less been denied any at this point.' Thus, neither an 'imminent injury' nor an 'injury in fact' attributable to DOMA has been established. The plaintiffs lack standing. Case closed. That would have been fine with gay rights groups, which viewed Smelt-Hammer as an imperfect vehicle for challenging DOMA's constitutionality. 'We had no problem with DOJ getting rid of this case,' one legal expert told me. 'The plaintiffs didn't tell a good story"