FOIA Lawsuit Filed over Obama Justice Department’s Refusal to Defend Federal Marriage Law

In one move in February, Barack Obama and Eric Holder overruled the U.S. Constitution and redefined the institution of marriage. And Judicial Watch wants to know everything about how and why this decision was made.


That’s why we filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Obama Justice Department (DOJ) on April 29, 2011. We want access to any DOJ records pertaining to the agency’s decision not to defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act. (You may recall DOMA, as it is called, breezed through Congress with a vote of 85–14 in the Senate and a vote of 342–67 in the House. President Clinton signed the act into law by on September 21, 1996. It has been the law of the land now for almost 15 years.)

Now we know what the Obama administration has said publicly about its decision.

On February 23, 2011, Attorney General Eric Holder sent a letter to Congress announcing that the Obama Justice Department would no longer defend the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (which defines marriage for federal purposes as the union of a man and a woman) in two recently-filed cases: Pederson v. Office of Personnel Management and Windsor v. United States.

The Attorney General then took it a step further, announcing the Justice Department would not defend DOMA as applied to same-sex married couples in any other pending or future litigation:


The president has concluded that given a number of factors, including a documented history of discrimination, classifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to a more heightened standard of scrutiny. The president has also concluded that Section 3 of DOMA, as applied to legally married same-sex couples, fails to meet that standard and is therefore unconstitutional.

So there you have it. The president “has concluded,” and is now saying publicly, that the U.S. Congress, the American people and the U.S. Constitution are all dead wrong on this issue of gay marriage.

But what went on behind the scenes to lead to this sudden reversal in Justice Department policy?

The Obama administration has defended the constitutionality of DOMA in court and is changing its tune mid-stream. The President did admit during the campaign that while his religion opposes same sex marriage, his views were “evolving.” But what outside special interest groups may have helped nudge the president’s evolving views along?

We know there is evidence that the race-baiting National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) influenced the Justice Department’s decision to abandon the Black Panthers voter intimidation lawsuit. And JW uncovered further evidence the Justice Department colluded with the leftist American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on their respective attacks against S.B. 1070, Arizona’s get-tough illegal immigration law.

So is the homosexual lobby calling the shots on the gay marriage issue? (The Washington Post reported that Valerie Jarrett, also known as the “other half of Obama’s brain,” and the administration’s liaison with the homosexual lobby, was involved in this decision.)

That’s what Judicial Watch intends to find out.

On February 24 and March 1, 2011, Judicial Watch filed FOIA requests with the Office of Information Policy, a component of the Justice Department, as well as a separate FOIA with the DOJ’s Referral Unit seeking internal DOJ communications related to the DOMA decision as well as correspondence between Justice and members of Congress, the White House, and outside entities. Outside entities include liberal special interest group, such as The American Civil Liberties Union, Freedom to Marry, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, Moveon.org, the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition and the Service Employees International Union.

The Office of Information Policy and the Referral Unit both acknowledged receipt of Judicial Watch’s FOIA requests but have failed to respond to these requests within the statutory allotted time frame. In fact, the DOJ has failed to release any records or indicate when a response is forthcoming, prompting Judicial Watch’s lawsuit.

It appears Barack Obama and Eric Holder have arrogantly decided to ignore the Constitution and abandon their responsibility to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed” — again! And adding insult to injury, they refuse to answer to the American people for their behavior. There is now little doubt that liberal special interest groups are pulling the strings at the DOJ and dictating the policies of the nation’s top law enforcement organization.

You should know that the alliance isn’t only about ideology — it is also about campaign cash for Obama’s reelection. Politico ran a story last week entitled, “Gay donors fuel President Obama's 2012 campaign.” Sure enough, Obama is seeking campaign cash as payment for his abuse of office:
President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign is banking on gay donors to make up the cash it’s losing from other groups of wealthy supporters who have been alienated and disappointed by elements of Obama’s first term.

The article goes on to cite the abandonment of DOMA as one of several policy decisions that are spurring increased support from homosexual activists and that the Obama “campaign’s new fundraising apparatus appears designed to capitalize on their enthusiasm.”

You can see why this issue is not only about the rule of law, but naked political corruption. The Justice Department must release these documents and tell the American people exactly why they made the shameful decision to shirk its constitutional obligation to defend DOMA and the interests of the American people.

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