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February 23, 2011

"On Wednesday, President Obama directed the Justice Department to stop defending the law that bans federal recognition of same-sex marriages. And while the decision will — and should — be celebrated by gay couples across the country, practically speaking, their lives won’t change much for some time.

"After all, the move doesn’t actually repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. So same-sex couples will still remain strangers, for the most part, in the eyes of the federal government. Couples will still be unable to jointly file their federal tax returns, and they won’t be eligible to receive Social Security benefits based on their spouse’s earnings record.

"...'They have concluded that laws that discriminate based on sexual orientation should be presumed to be unconstitutional and those laws should be struck down by the courts unless the government can prove that those laws are necessary to advance an important and legitimate government interest,' said Jon Davidson, legal director at Lambda Legal. 'That, in and of itself, is something we have been fighting for since we opened our doors. The executive branch is now saying that the courts should treat those laws as suspect.'"

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