(San Francisco, CA, August 17, 2009)— The Department of Justice filed its reply brief today in Smelt v. United States, a federal lawsuit challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which excludes same-sex couples from all federal benefits and protections given to heterosexual married couples.

A statement from NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell, Esq.

“We appreciate that the Department of Justice has acknowledged that DOMA is a blatantly discriminatory measure that must be repealed. We are also very pleased that the brief acknowledges that DOMA cannot be justified by outdated and biased arguments based on procreation or childrearing. The federal government’s recognition that same-sex parents are just as fit as heterosexual parents is significant and historic.

We remain disappointed that the Department of Justice continues to defend DOMA and to argue that laws that discriminate based on sexual orientation do not raise serious constitutional problems. We believe that the Justice Department would be unlikely to make that argument in defense of a law that discriminated against women or other minorities. We call on the Obama administration to stop defending this abhorrent law that hurts families and lacks any legitimate justification.

Every day that DOMA remains in effect, it causes serious harm and requires the government to discriminate against an entire class of Americans. President Obama must work with Congress to help us swiftly repeal this measure to ensure that same-sex couples and their children are no longer branded as outsiders and denied vital protections by the federal government.

Today’s filing is a step forward, but it is not enough. Our community and all those who care about equality must continue to use every means possible to urge the administration to support full equality and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.”

The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.