by Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

The President has made his decision. The Attorney General has now made his announcement. Mark your calendars for yesterday. That day now represents a tragic milestone in the betrayal of marriage.

Attorney General Eric Holder informed Congress yesterday that President Obama had ordered the Department of Justice to cease all efforts to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in the courts. The announcement came without public warning, even as the administration was dealing with an international crisis in Libya and a political showdown over unions in Wisconsin.

The Defense of Marriage Act [DOMA] emerged in 1996 as at least one state — Hawaii — indicated the very real possibility that it would vote to approve same-sex marriage. The Act makes clear that no state can require any other state to recognize a same-sex marriage, and that the federal government is prohibited from extending marital benefits to same-sex couples. The Senate approved the measure by a vote of 85 to 14. In the House of Representatives, the vote was 342 to 67. Faced with such overwhelming congressional support, President Bill Clinton signed the bill into law.

But 1996 was a long time ago, politically and culturally speaking. President Obama vigorously and repeatedly declared his opposition to DOMA during the presidential campaign of 2008.

In subsequent statements, President Obama had indicated his hope that Congress would repeal the measure. That was unlikely, though Sen. Diane Feinstein signaled late Wednesday her intention to offer legislation to repeal DOMA. She did so only after the White House made its announcement.

President Obama’s decision to enforce but not to defend DOMA in the courts is not without precedent, but such presidential actions are extremely rare. The President is required by the Constitution and his oath of office to enforce the nation’s laws, but he has instructed his Attorney General no longer to defend the law in the courts. In essence, this seals the judicial fate of the Defense of Marriage Act — it is now left without its most important defender….

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