Commentary – Defense of Marriage Act


Dear Messrs. Reid, McConnell, Boehner, and Ms. Pelosi:

It has been widely reported that the President has directed the Department of Justice to cease defending in court the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which was passed by overwhelming majorities in both houses of Congress and signed by President Clinton.

The announcement disturbs The American Legion for at least two reasons:

1. The American Legion supports by resolution the proposition that marriage is inscribed in human nature and centered on the voluntary union of a man and a woman in a lifelong covenant and we oppose all efforts to undermine, alter, or otherwise corrupt the institution of marriage.

2. Also, The American Legion believes in the separation of powers prescribed by our Constitution.  Hence, the President should not have the constitutional power to declare a law unconstitutional and then proceed to ignore it.  We understand that it is not without precedent for a President to be disinclined to enforce or defend laws he finds unpalatable, and the courts have found that he can do just that under the rational basis standard.   However, such action clearly contradicts the intent of Congress, which passed DOMA by overwhelming majorities, and it is inconsistent with the powers granted to him by the U.S. Constitution, Article II, Section 3, which states: [The President] shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.

Therefore, on behalf of the 2.4 million wartime veterans comprising The American Legion, I respectfully request that the Congress, as a whole and individually, use all means at its disposal to ensure both enforcement and defense of the Defense of Marriage Act, up to and including appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court for a ruling on its constitutionality in whole and in part.

JIMMIE L. FOSTER National Commander – American Legion